The fruit fly Drosophila is one of the most extensively characterized metazoan organisms. Over more than 100 years since it was introduced as an experimental animal model for biological research, it has allowed for key biological concepts and phenomena to be elucidated, leading to some of biology’s fundamental findings, including the chromosomal theory of heredity and basic genetic mechanisms underlying animal development and evolution.
Importantly, many aspects of development and behaviour in Drosophila parallel those in humans. The completion of both the human and Drosophila genome sequencing projects revealed that more than 75% of human genetic disease genes have clear homologues in the fruit fly. Taking advantage of the significantly shorter life cycle and powerful array of genetic and molecular tools available in Drosophila, it is now feasible to perform large-scale genetic screens in Drosophila to identify novel drugs and therapeutic targets.