What do fruit flies have in common with humans?

Well, everything.... except that humans don't fly.

Flies and humans share many genes and functional mechanisms. For example, 70% of our proteins are the same, we both use neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, and we both have a brain divided in two hemispheres. Of course, flies are evolutionary older than us and they are much simpler - indeed, we have billions of neurons while they have around 90,000. However, because we have a super-old common ancestor, we share enough things to allow us to extract conclusions from fly research that relate to us and because they are simpler it is easy to ask  specific behavioural, genetic and cellar questions and use these discoveries to guide research in the more complex mammals, including humans.

Andrea Soto is a PhD candidate in Drosophila neurobiology at the University of Groningen 

 

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