I was reading about the Lenski experiments on the evolution of E. coli bacterium and Dr. Elders's experiments on the evolution of the guppy. These two experiments absolutely fascinated me, and seemed to happen relatively quickly by evolutionary standards. It was mentioned in the book that the fruit fly's productive turnover time is especially short.

I am extremely interested and would very much like to conduct an experiment into the evolution of the fruit fly, in much the same way as the Lenski and Elder experiments when I'm older.

Just so I can get a good idea, as I can find nothing on the internet, how long would it take for the fruit fly to get through, say, 10 generations?

Also, what would be the best way to go about beginning an experiment like this? Would there be certain people to contact? Would you need certain qualifications?

  • $\begingroup$ I love the subject of experimental evolution! Give me some time and I'll write more about it. $\endgroup$
    – Marta Cz-C
    Commented May 23, 2012 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ It is one of the most amazing things $\endgroup$
    – ODP
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 16:17

1 Answer 1


What do you mean by you couldn't find anything on the internet? Drosophila generation time is explained here?

Your other question is a bit off-topic here but I'll give all advice I have heard myself:

You can leave out a banana skin and catch some fruit flies, then do the experiment in your kitchen :) Joke aside, unless you perform the experiment independently it will probably take a long time and it's well possible that you won't be able to do it at all (unless you become some famous scientist). I'm not familiar with the experiments you mention, but if you require equipment and/or funding, you will need a qualification and/or a good explanation why people should give you money or let you use their equipment for this experiment.

I don't know what stage of education you are at, but it sounds like you are still at school ("when I'm older")? Most countries have some schemes where students (below uni) can apply for young researcher kind of things, so you could try and google that. Apart from that, the best bet is probably to try and get into a uni with good facilities and research programmes for their students. What you study shouldn't matter so much as long as it's science.

In response to Marta's commment: if you understand the experiment and you think you can gather everything they used at home, nothing speaks against just doing it on your own. Just make sure you don't let those flies swarm your house ;)

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    $\begingroup$ Quite discouraging. As far as I know one don't need very expensive equipment to experiment with natural selection (especially among fruit fly!). Creativity and a lot of patience would be much more needed. $\endgroup$
    – Marta Cz-C
    Commented May 23, 2012 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not aware of what experiment they carried out there so I wrote my answer trying to stay on the safe side, assuming that it was a full-out scientific project :) Of course, experimenting is well possible on a small scale especially with these little ones. $\endgroup$
    – Armatus
    Commented May 23, 2012 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ Yes I'm still at school, I'm 16. I'm well aware of the length of time it would take and why would you need to be a famous scientist? Also, if Elder and Lenski gave reasons for wanting invested money (if they did at all), I'm sure I could give the same reasons. But yes, overall, rather discouraging $\endgroup$
    – ODP
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ You would need a good explanation why you want to repeat the same experiment. And being famous has the advantage that people tend to give you access to things more willingly - and may not ask for as many explanations if you ask for things :) $\endgroup$
    – Armatus
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Armatus but one have to do something to become famous. It's not something that just come to you when you get older :) $\endgroup$
    – Marta Cz-C
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 19:16

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