Effects of the space environment on Drosophila melanogaster development. Implications of the IML-2 experiment

J Biotechnol. 1996 Jun 27;47(2-3):179-89. doi: 10.1016/0168-1656(96)01408-3.


One hundred and sixty Drosophila females laid several thousands of embryos during the 14.5 days of the IML-2 spaceflight. The progeny were either recovered frozen (embryos at final stages of development and larvae), or maintained alive developing further until adulthood. All embryos, larvae, pupae and imagoes recovered were normal in morphology and function. Results from earlier experiments were reproduced in IML-2 with a better experimental design. We confirm that in Space there is a stimulation of oogenesis and that development is slightly delayed when compared to that of synchronous parallel ground controls. Nevertheless, it is clear from the accompanying 1 x g flight control centrifuge and from the 1.4 x g ground centrifuge samples, that centrifugation itself can produce similar effects, emphasizing the importance of reevaluating the role of the 1 x g on-flight controls. The results emphasize the apparent paradox that simple cellular model systems in microgravity show alterations in many fundamental processes such as those involved in cell signalling, while development, relying heavily on these key cellular mechanisms can proceed quite normally in the absence of gravity. The effects on development are small and more the consequence of a reaction to the abnormal Space environment in general than a specific effect of microgravity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotechnology / instrumentation
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development*
  • Female
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Pupa / growth & development
  • Research Design
  • Space Flight* / instrumentation
  • Time Factors
  • Weightlessness / adverse effects*