R Stephenson, NH Metcalfe
Journal Issue: 
Volume 43: Issue 1: 2013



Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, has been used as a model organism in both medical and scientific research for over a century. Work by Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866–1945) and his students at Columbia University at the beginning of the twentieth century led to great discoveries such as sex-linked inheritance and that ionising radiation causes mutations in genes. However, the use of Drosophila was not limited to genetic research. Experimentation with this model organism has also led to discoveries in neuroscience and neurodevelopment, including the basis of circadian rhythms. Its complex nervous system, conserved neurological function, and human disease-related loci allow Drosophila to be an ideal model organism for the study of neurodegenerative disease, for which it is used today, aiding research into diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which are becoming more prevalent in today’s ageing population.

Keywords  Drosophila melanogaster, Thomas Hunt Morgan, Alfred Henry Sturtevant, Hermann Joseph Muller, Notch pathway, neurodegenerative disease

Declarations of Interests No conflicts of interest declared.