Why the fly: public outreach and advocacy

Drosophila melanogaster, commonly known as the fruit fly or vinegar fly, has been a key research animal model for over 100 years. Discoveries in Drosophila have led to the award of 10 Nobel laureates for groundbreaking findings in physiology and medicine. Yet, the public, policy makers, and even other scientists not working with Drosophila are not aware of the amazing tools and advantages associated with Drosophila flies. This lack of information and resulting appreciation is a threat to Drosophila research and, most importantly, to scientific progress in general. So, what speaks for Drosophila as a research model?

First, Drosophila is an animal just like humans. Much of its fundamental cellular physiology, needs, and behavior mirrors what is observed in humans. At the same time, Drosophila is not a mammal. While this might have disadvantages for certain research questions, it allows us to discover the fundamental mechanisms without the difficult ethical concerns and caveats that come with research on rodents or primates.

Second, nearly 75% of human disease-associated genes are found in Drosophila. Groundbreaking research leading to the award of the above-mentioned Nobel prizes has shown that Drosophila genes play the same role as human genes in cancer, development, aging or sleep. The toolkit developed over the last 100 years for Drosophila allows scientists to remove, over- or miss-express genes in any tissue, any cell at precise times during development or adulthood. A feat not possible in humans! Importantly, while research in humans can tell us which gene mutations correlate with certain human diseases, Drosophila can help us to establish whether a certain gene is indeed causal to the disease. And hence, this causal gene is a promising candidate for the development of novel therapies and treatments.

Third, Drosophila research is relatively cheap,its life cycle is fast and the community is extremely friendly, sharing information and reagents. Thus, the public, policy makers and scientists can get more, and faster, discovery for every buck they spend.

Below we list several resources aimed at the public or at scientists who wish to communicate with the public and policy makers. And while Drosophila is not a better animal or research model than other models, it fills an important niche complementing the possibilities for discovery and scientific advance. As for everything else, diversity enriches our world. This is not only true for scientists, but also equally true for our research models and approaches.

Please help us engage the public and advocate for Drosophila research in your countries and communities. Thank you!


Drosophila Basics for the General Public

  • Training: a self study-based Drosophila genetics training package including a comprehensive introduction to all basics and training tasks — (LINK)
  • I FLY BIO – Drosophila basics and genetic tools — (LINK)
  • Movies about Drosophila and fly research — (LINK)
  • Comparing fly and human organs
  • Lay articles about Drosophila research  (compilation from Manchester Fly Facility)
  • History articles about Drosophila research (compilation from Manchester Fly Facility)
  • Fly art gallery (compilation from Manchester Fly Facility)

Drosophila Education & Teaching

  • Manchester Fly Facility Resources 2 – Biology lessons for schools using the fruit fly Drosophila — (LINK)
  • Manchester Fly Facility Resources 3 – Resources for communicating Drosophila research in schools and on science fairs. figshare, m9.figshare.4262921 — (LINK)
  • droso4schools biology lessons using Drosophila micro experiments — (LINK)
  • Strategies and resources for teaching Drosophila at schools and university — (LINK)
  • Genotype builder: a Powerpoint file to quickly generate images of flies with your own choice of marker combinations — (LINK)
  • FlyMove website dedicated to illustrating and explaining Drosophila developmental biology in simple terms, aimed at university students and teachers

Engagement and Advocacy

  • Collection of engagement resources for all kinds of purposes — (LINK)
  • “Why fly?” on droso4public: ideas and arguments — (LINK)
  • “Why fly?” on droso4schools: ideas and arguments — (LINK)
  • An advocacy article addressing politicians — (LINK and as GSA blog)


Manchester Fly Facility Outreach
droso4research – resources for university students and scientists not working with fly
droso4schools – School outreach and education resources
droso4public  – collating useful links and information to support you during Drosophila advocacy and public outreach
Manchester Fly Facility YouTube Channel

Citizen science melanogaster – Catch the fly
European citizen science network on adaptation genomics

I FLY BIO, India

Fly Indonesia – official site of the Fly Indonesia initiative aiming to establish Drosophila as a research strategy in that country

Drosophila Research and Training Centre, Nigeria

  • droso4Nigeriapromoting Drosophila in Nigerian universities and schools — (LINK)
  • droso4LatAmpromoting Drosophila in Latin American universities and schools — (LINK)
  • Drosophila Photography — (LINK)
  • Manchester Fly Facility Resources 1 – mixed engagement resources — (LINK)
  • Manchester Fly Facility Resources 2 – Biology lessons for schools using the fruit fly Drosophila — (LINK)
  • Manchester Fly Facility Resources 3 – Resources for communicating Drosophila research in schools and on science fairs. figshare, m9.figshare.4262921 — (LINK)
  • #MelanogasterCTF – citizen science project in the area of population genetics — (LINK)
  • Drosophila Research & Training CentreDrosophila outreach and training in Nigeria — (LINK)
  • Drosophila basics and genetic tools — (LINK)
  • FLYING THRU SCIENCE – insightful blog posts about fly research — (LINK)

Recent articles for the general public about new Drosophila research results

29 July 2022 – Scientists Discover a Massacre: “Assassin” Cells Murder Innocent Cells. SciTechDaily.

Recent YouTube videos for the general public about new Drosophila research results

Come on Baby, Light My Neurons – Curr. Biol., Apr. 19, 2018 (Vol. 28, Issue 9)

New Insights Into What Fruit Fly Sex Is Like – SciShow – 2018