CBS News has covered research carried out in the fruit fly lab of SMU biologist Johannes H. Bauer by Plano, Texas, high school student Ria Chhabra in its March 27, 2013, article “Organic foods linked to better fertility, longevity in fruit flies.”

Bauer, an assistant professor in SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences, mentored Chhabra in her research to examine whether there would be health differences to fruit flies fed an organic diet or a nonorganic diet. Chhabra’s study found that flies fed an organic diet fared better on important health tests, particularly fertility and longevity.

Read the CBS News article.


Ryan Jaslow
CBS News

New research shows eating lots of organic food can lead to a healthier life — if you happen to be a fruit fly.

Scientists fed fruit flies extracts from either organic foods or non-organic, conventionally-grown foods, and found the organic group was healthier and lived longer than their counterparts.

“We don’t know why the flies on the organic diet did better. That will require further research. But this is a start toward understanding potential health benefits,” study leader Ria Chhabra, a student at Clark High School in Plano, Texas, said in a written statement.

That’s right, the study was led by a Texas high school student who got the idea from hearing her parents discuss whether or not it was worth it to buy organic foods for health reasons.

So, Chhabra teamed up with her mentor, Dr. Johannes H. Bauer, an assistant professor of biology at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

“It’s rare for a high school student to have such a prominent position in the lab. But Ria has tremendous energy and curiosity, and that convinced me to give this research project a try,” Bauer said.

The fruit fly, or Drosophila melanogaster, is used in Bauer’s lab and other research facilities to study human diseases including diabetes, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s. Fruit flies are widely used in research because they’re cheaper and have a shorter life cycle than other lab animal models.

Read the CBS News article.

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