These fruit flies may not be quite as smooth as Michael Jackson, but they can certainly moonwalk!
In an attempt to understand how the brain directs the body to walk backwards, scientists turned to fruit flies. Researchers in Austria developed many different strains of fruit flies, each of which was modified so that different areas of the brain responded to heat. After testing thousands of strains of flies, they found a strain that walked backwards when the temperature was increased! And while creating a fly that can moonwalk is cool, the science behind it is what’s important; this fly is helping scientists map the neural pathways involved in walking backwards. It turns out that something that is so simple for us really isn’t understood very well. There are also some animals that lack the ability to walk backwards, and it’s possible that the evolution of these neural signals could be significant in more ways than you might think.
Check out this video and judge for yourself how these flies compare to the King of Pop… we just need some background music, and we’re all set! No word on flies that will dance to ‘Thriller,’ though. Read more here:
Fruit flies and humans aren’t anything alike… or are they? A fruit fly’s exoskeleton and a human’s skin are both made up of a mesh of molecules that protect against injury and infection. Even though some of the molecules are different, many of the important molecules and proteins are the same. Turns out the the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is actually a really good model for wound healing.
Because fruit fly genetics are simpler than mammalian genetics, when researchers look at genes that are activated during fruit fly wound healing, it’s easier to pinpoint the functions of those individual genes. And during wound repair, they can also look at the genes that aren’t activated when the body focuses on wound repair and neglects other developmental processes. Studying the balance of gene activation and deactivation- and identifying certain genes that are involved in fruit fly wound repair- can potentially lead to new developments in skin graft and wound healing in humans. It can also give researchers insights into possible treatments for chronic skin diseases, like psoriosis and eczema. Turns out those little flies can give us a lot of information!