Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly) is what is known in science as a model organism. This has nothing to do with it being an exemplary insect but instead refers to the fact that it is an ideal organism to carry out certain research studies in a laboratory. Drosophila melanogaster is an excellent model for genetic studies, and thanks to this little fly, many great scientific advances have been made.
There are many characteristics of Drosophila melanogaster that make it suitable for genetic and evolutionary studies. It is a small organism that is both easy to maintain and manipulate in the laboratory. It is easy to breed, and it reproduces quickly, allowing scientists to obtain several generations within a short period of time. Being small, thousands of individuals can be kept in relatively small spaces, allowing scientists to store the fly equivalent of the entire population of New York or Barcelona in a few laboratory trays! Additionally, we also have a good working knowledge of its genome, which was sequenced back in 2000 and shares some similarity to the human genome.
Because of all this, thousands of investigations have been carried out using Drosophila (the fruit fly), resulting in many important awards and scientific recognitions, with up to 7 Nobel prizes!
This small Drosophila (fruit fly) is native to Africa, just like our species, Homo sapiens, but today, also like us, it can be found all over the world. Drosophila melanogaster is easily found in nature across all environments, making it the ideal candidate for research into adaptation genomics.
Other species of fruit flies also make for interesting subjects for the study of adaptation to the environment, including Drosophila simulans and Drosophila suzukii. The latter causes great economic losses, unlike the other species of interest, due to the damage it causes to fruit in cultivation fields.