A deep sleep stage in Drosophila with a functional role in waste clearance

Journal: Science Advances

Published: 2021-01-01

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc2999

Affiliations: 2

Authors: 5

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Research Highlight

Proboscis-poking flies are healthier flies

© ConstantinCornel/iStock/Getty Images

© ConstantinCornel/iStock/Getty Images

Sleeping fruit flies regularly stick out and retract their proboscises to help the movement of waste out of their body and to keep themselves healthy.

The function of sleep is not well understood. In a search for answers, a team that included researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia has been studying the sleep behaviour of fruit flies.

The researchers found that fruit flies in deep sleep repeatedly extended and retracted their proboscises. Flies that were prevented from doing so didn’t recover as well from injury and could experience a build-up of bodily waste products. Furthermore, flies that were deprived of sleep showed higher levels of proboscis poking when they were finally able to sleep.

The proboscis occupies around a fifth of a fly’s head, and researchers believe the movement helps to pump the fly’s blood around while it sleeps, thus improving nutrient flow and waste elimination.

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  1. Science Advances 7, eabc2999 (2021). doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abc2999
Institutions Share
Northwestern University (NU), United States of America (USA) 0.60
The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia 0.40