Project Description

Fascinating Fruit Flies

Fruit Fly Illustration
Fruit Fly Aggression
Fruit Fly Aggression

Fascinating Fruit Flies

The humble fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) continues to surprise us with its prolific ability to reveal information about the human brain. Obvious differences exist, yet this most simple of organisms has provided tremendous insights into the neurobiology of emotion, sensory processing, sleep and circadian rhythms, brain and synaptic development, and even Parkinson’s Disease.

Gene manipulation in flies is relatively straightforward, and has facilitated a revolution in neuroscience, demonstrating that genes not only regulate physical traits such as eye color and hair color, but can also regulate more complex behaviors. Harvard neuroscientists use fruit flies to answer how genes influence other behaviors, such as aggression, the sex drive, motivation, and insomnia (yes, even fruit flies sleep!).

Neuroscience Research with Fruitfly Models

Ed Kravitz, a founding member of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Neurobiology, is a pioneer in the study of how neurons regulate aggressive behaviors in fruit flies. Using a quantifiable and robust behavioral assay that pits one fly against another, the Kravitz Lab takes advantage of genetic tools that can be harnessed to power our understanding of the biological underpinnings of aggressive behavior.

More Neuroscience Research with Fruitfly Models

Center For Brain Science
Mapping The Fly Connectome in the Laboratory of Aravi Samuel
Do Fruit Flies Have Personalities? Video featuring Ben De Bivoort
Kunes Laboratory

Harvard Medical School
Studying insomnia in the Rogulja Lab
How the brain wires itself in the Pecot Lab
Sensory processing and integration in the Wilson Lab

FM Kirby Neurobiology Center, Boston Children’s Hospital
Video: Tom Schwarz explains how Fruit Flies Help Researchers Understand the Human Brain
Article:  Fruitflies Love Lives….
Article:  Fruitflies Lead Scientists To New Human Pain Gene

Brigham & Women’s Hospital
Fruitfly Models of Human Neurodegenerative Disease from the Feany Lab