Why is Drosophila melanogaster an excellent organism for the study of genetics?
The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has been extensively studied for over a century as a model organism for genetic investigations. It also has many characteristics which make it an ideal organism for the study of animal development and behavior, neurobiology, and human genetic diseases and conditions.
Morgan wanted to understand heredity and mutation, which is genetic change. The Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit fly, is a good genetic research subject because it can be bred cheaply and reproduces quickly. Morgan was not the first to use the fruit fly as a subject, but his innovation and success popularized its use.
- Following the rediscovery of Mendelian inheritance in 1900, Morgan began to study the genetic characteristics of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. In his famous Fly Room at Columbia University, Morgan demonstrated that genes are carried on chromosomes and are the mechanical basis of heredity.
- The Boveri–Sutton chromosome theory (also known as the chromosome theory of inheritance or the Sutton–Boveri theory) is a fundamental unifying theory of genetics which identifies chromosomes as the carriers of genetic material.
- In the spring of 1902, when he was only 25, Sutton deduced that chromosomes are the basis of heredity, and that the reduction of chromosomes in meiosis is directly related to Mendel's laws of inheritance.
- Fruit flies cannot bite, so you don't have to worry about that. By themselves, they actually aren't unhealthy to eat. The main issue with fruit flies is that they of course carry diseases, bacteria, and viruses. Thus, you are essentially eating those rotting foods yourself.
- Bananas are at the lower end of the range, with about 550 Mbp in the haploid set, and each chromosome is about 50 Mbp in size, the size of the human 21 or 22 chromosome.
- 75 per cent of the genes that cause disease in humans are also found in the fruit fly. Drosophila have a short, simple reproduction cycle. It is normally about 8-14 days, depending on the environmental temperature. This means that several generations can be observed in a matter of months.
The first generation (the F1) produced 1,237 red-eyed offspring and three white-eyed flies, all males. Morgan named this trait white, now abbreviated w. Flies possessing the white allele are frequently used to introduce high school and college students to genetics.
- Thomas Hunt Morgan, (born Sept. 25, 1866, Lexington, Ky., U.S.—died Dec. 4, 1945, Pasadena, Calif.), American zoologist and geneticist, famous for his experimental research with the fruit fly (Drosophila) by which he established the chromosome theory of heredity.
- The allele that encodes the phenotype most common in a particular natural population is known as the wild type allele. It is often designated, in genetic shorthand, as "+". Any form of that allele other than the wild type is known as a mutant form of that allele.
- In fruit flies, the dominant V allele produces long wings, whereas the recessive v allele produces vestigial wings. Thus, flies with the genotype VV or Vv will have long wings, and flies with the genotype vv will have vestigial wings.
Updated: 2nd October 2019