Fruit fly on a leash


Tying up a fruit fly can help scientists watch its wingstroke.


A fruit fly in tethered flight.
A fruit fly in tethered flight.
Christopher S. Newhard, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

This photograph depicts Drosophila melanogaster, better known as a fruit fly, during flight while tethered with tungsten wires.

Able to beat its wings 200 times a second, the fruit fly is a marvelous creature. By taking still photographs with exposure times on the order of hundredths of seconds, the mechanics of the wing stroke can be observed. This image is part of a project investigating mutations in the muscle protein myosin that cause familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a heart muscle disease). By introducing the mutations in the fly, altered muscle performance can be observed, in this case including wing stroke amplitude during flight.

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