The fruit fly, evolution and a potential for nutritional studies.

Many of the classical studies in genetics have used the fruit fly Drosophila. Why the Drosophila?. It has been suggested that the original scientist who used Drosophila was intending to study another insect but as he ate his lunch there was a fruit fly on his banana.
The sequence of the genomes of 12 fly species has now been completed. During evolution, protein coding genes are conserved but show variation. . The vast majority of multigene families are found in all the 12 genomes Drosophila studies. Though there are novel genes peculiar to a particular species.
A major review in Nature looks at the genes involved in genetic selection. And why the different Drosophila species emerge and indeed why they are different. They have examined the traditional protein coding genetics, motifs that regulate gene expression and additional possible mechanisms for the pre-translational processing of mRNAs or alternative modes of translation.
Rapid evolution has occurred in the genes involved in olfaction, immunity and insecticide resistance.
The Drosophila has a simple metabolic system for example the control of glucose and lipid metabolism. Studies in Drosophila metabolic processes have equivalence in mammalian tissue and hence are a good model to study the gene protein metabolic systems. Similarly the control of total size, organ size, cell competition and apoptosis, control of cell division , cell shape and arrangement can be studied in the fruitfly .The feedback systems coordinating various processes are similarly well studied in the fly.
Gunter et al Editor 2007 Genome labour bear fruit. Nature vol 450 pp 183-241

Martin Eastwood
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