Insects as Biological Model Systems

Insects as biological model systems offer many advantages over mammalian models and are also preferred for ethical reasons. Research on the popular fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has produced many important scientific results literally over decades. Insects can be grown in statistical meaningful numbers with little effort, they exhibit short generation cycles allowing for large and yet cost-effective investigations. Moreover, insect models may exhibit specific advantages. The greater wax moth Galleria melonella, for example, became a popular model insect because it hatches in bee hives where it has to withstand elevated temperatures. Bred at 37°C it serves as an excellent model system especially for bacterial infections which could not be followed well at room temperature.
Moreover, we employ the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum to investigate the effect of specific substances on the insect and its physiology because it is easily cultured, exhibits a short life cycle and a high fecundity.