The genetics underlying metabolism in different organisms is very similar in different species, so researchers can gain insight into human physiology from a variety of models. Fruit flies, for example, have shown researchers how the lifestyle adopted by parents before they even have children might be affecting the metabolism of those future kids.
Work by Anita Öst at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Linköping University has indicated that if male fruit flies consume large amounts of sugar, they will have fatter offspring. She wants to follow up on her findings by looking at how that effect is transmitted, and seeing if it happens in humans.
"Now we want to find out exactly which mechanism connects the sugar to obesity in the next generation. In purely physical terms, it must be molecules found in the sperm," Öst said.