Automated Drosophila Maintenance System

Tech ID: 30553 / UC Case 2017-265-0


Drosophila spp., also known as fruit flies, are widely used in genetic research. Drosophila lines (e.g. flies with a particular mutation) can only be stored as live animals – they cannot be frozen and remain viable. So to maintain the stocks, the live flies are manually transferred from an old vial to a new vial on a regular basis (every 1-2 weeks). Some Drosophila labs maintain hundreds or even thousands of individual lines and so maintenance of these lines can be very time consuming. A UC Santa Cruz Drosophila researcher has developed a simpler and more efficient method of transferring the flies that requires significantly less hands-on work.

Technology Description

This invention involves a system of caps and tubes that can be set up in series. The caps include channels that allow larvae to move through the bottom of one tube to the bottom of another tube and adults to move from the top of one tube to the top of another tube (see illustration).


Drosophila (and other insect) laboratory studies and experimentation     


  •       Significantly more efficient and less time consuming compared to standard practices
  •       Physical separation between parent flies and progeny 
  •       Prevents accidental release of flies

Intellectual Property Information

Patent Pending

Visual Media

invention drawing

A drawing of one form of the invention: adults are placed in the first vial and lay eggs in fly food at the bottom of the vial. The larvae move through the channel in the cap at the bottom of the first vial into the second vial; and pupate and metamorphose into adults in the second vial. Then the adults in the second vial move through the channel in the cap at the top of the second vial into the third vial, and the process repeats.


Learn About UC TechAlerts - Save Searches and receive new technology matches


  • Sullivan, William T.

Other Information


Drosophila, Fruit-flies, Breeding, Drosophila Breeding, Fruit-fly Breeding, Automated System, Automated Breeding System, Inexpensive, Breeding Device

Categorized As