I recently came across an article saying that fruit flies use alcohol to deter parasites. The researcher was quoted as saying there have not been any studies on the effect of human alcohol consumption on parasites. Is there any research being done on this? Another related question I have is whether the fruit flies can tolerate higher alcohol concentrations than mammals/humans.


1 Answer 1


Drosophila is seen as a highly alcohol tolerant species which is mainly dependent on the environment it lives in. So are flies, which are captured in the cellar of a wine yard more tolerant to alcohol than flies which are captured outside (see first reference).

The environment in which the flies grow up and live does not influence the activity of the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme but seems to influence the expression (amount) of it. The more alcohol is present, the higher the expression is (see reference 2).

I haven't seen explicit data on the comparison between humans/mammals and drosophila, but since drosophila is seen as a good model organism to study alcoholism, I would think it is not too different. (see reference 3).

  1. Micro-differentiation in a Natural Population of DROSOPHILA
    MELANOGASTER to Alcohol in the Environment
  2. Alcohol tolerance, ADH activity, and ecological niche of Drosophila species
  3. Functional Ethanol Tolerance in Drosophila

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