Drosophilia melanogaster are valued by scientists for their genetic similarities to humans. 61% of known human disease genes have a recognisable match in the genetic code of fruit flies and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues. They also go to sleep every night, behaviour which used to be regarded as distinctively vertebrate, they react to general anaesthetics, losing equivalent brain functions at equivalent doses to humans, and they reproduce very quickly (a new generation every fortnight at 25ºC, or every month at 18ºC) so we can study many generations in a very short time.
Scientists who work with fruit flies like to give them jokey names such as Ken and Barbie (a strain which lacks external genitalia), Groucho (more face bristles than usual), Scott of the Antarctic (a defective pole on their mitotic spindle), Maggie (arrested development, like the baby in The Simpsons), Icebox (female unreceptive to males) and Cheap Date (sensitive to ethanol intoxication). When they find a new gene whose function is unknown they called it ‘ring’ (Really Interesting New Gene).
If you deprive a fruit fly of sleep, it will try to catch up the next day.
You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood, place it in the navel of a fruit fly and still have room for three caraway seeds and a producer’s heart.
Fruit flies share 60% of their genes with humans.
At 0.05mm long, human sperm are the smallest cells in the body - about the same size as the sperm of a blue whale - but a species of fruit fly called Drosophila bifurca has sperm cells 5.8cm long when fully uncoiled, almost 20 times longer than the fly itself and well over 1,000 times longer than a human sperm.
This is the largest known sperm in nature and was discovered in 1995 by Dr Gary T. Miller and Professor Scott Pitnick of Syracuse University, NY. Female fruit flies store sperm from previous males they mated with for later use. For this reason geneticists try to collect the female fly before her first mating and ensure that she mates only with the particular male needed for the experiment. They have in common with the goddess Aphrodite a renewable virginity, in that inseminated females can be ‘re-virginised’ by prolonged incubation at -10 °C, which kills the sperm.
Fruit flies become hyperactive after feasting on fermented fruit.
A fruit fly’s sperm cell is 2.3 inches long. If a human man had the same proportions, a 6 foot man would have sperm 120 feet long.