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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK
Scientists meet for maggot talks
Maggots turn into flies in three days
International scientists are meeting at a British university for a major conference about maggots.

Delegates from Europe, the US, Japan and South America are attending the University of Manchester to discuss the fruit fly larvae.

The three-day event beginning on Tuesday has been organised by Dr Matthew Cobb, a lecturer in animal behaviour at the university.

He said there were major advantages to be gained from exploring maggots.

"Scientists have been studying fruit flies for 100 years and they have proven a very powerful tool in our current understanding of how genetics works," said Dr Cobb.

Human baby

"Holding an international conference on fruit-fly maggots might seem like a strange idea but there are major scientific benefits to be had from studying these organisms.

"The first genes involved in biological clocks that help us know what time of day it is were discovered in fruit flies, as were the genes involved in the biological processes of learning and how organisms grow and develop from that initial single cell.

"The same basic genes that make a fly also make a human baby - the rules involved in this won researchers the Nobel Prize in 1995 - so there are huge practical applications here for understanding how humans work."

He said behavioural biologists have over the last 10 years started examining maggots.

"The only drawback to studying maggots is that you don't have long as they turn into flies in three days," he added.

The event is expected to attract more than 70 leading maggot experts - twice the number at the first conference held in Germany two years ago.

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