Why a fly? Using Drosophila to understand the genetics of circadian rhythms and sleep

Sleep. 2004 Mar 15;27(2):334-42. doi: 10.1093/sleep/27.2.334.


Among simple model systems, Drosophila has specific advantages for neurobehavioral investigations. It has been particularly useful for understanding the molecular basis of circadian rhythms. In addition, the genetics of fruit-fly sleep are beginning to develop. This review summarizes the current state of understanding of circadian rhythms and sleep in the fruit fly for the readers of Sleep. We note where information is available in mammals, for comparison with findings in fruit flies, to provide an evolutionary perspective, and we focus on recent findings and new questions. We propose that sleep-specific neural activity may alter cellular function and thus accomplish the restorative function or functions of sleep. In conclusion, we sound some cautionary notes about some of the complexities of working with this "simple" organism.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Chronobiology Phenomena
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Drosophila
  • Female
  • Light
  • Male
  • Molecular Biology / methods*
  • Periodicity
  • Photic Stimulation
  • RNA / genetics
  • Rest
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology


  • RNA