Drosophilidae is a diverse, cosmopolitan family of flies, including the genus Drosophila, which includes fruit flies. The best known species is Drosophila melanogaster that is used extensively for studies concerning genetics, development, physiology, ecology, behaviour, etc. The fruit fly is mostly composed of post-mitotic cells, has a very short lifespan, and shows gradual aging. Like in other species, temperature influences the life history of the animal. Several genes have been identified whose manipulation extends the lifespan of these animals.
Generally, drosophilids are considered nuisance flies. Zaprionus indianus Gupta is unusual among Drosophilidae species in being a serious, primary pest of at least one commercial fruit, figs in Brazil. Drosophila repleta larvae inhabit drains and spread bacteria.
Recent versions of the diagnostic characteristics can be found in "Drosophila: A Guide to Species Identification and Use" by Therese A. Markow and Patrick O'Grady, (Academic Press, 2005) ISBN: 0124730523 or "Drosophila: A Laboratory Handbook" by M. Ashburner, K. Golic, S. Hawley, (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2005).
The knowledge of the phylogeny of this family is incomplete. The family is subdivided in two subfamilies, the Drosophilinae and the Steganinae. The two subfamilies do not contain a single morphological character that distinguishes them. However, the combination of characterists is sufficient to assign species correctly to the subfamilies.
Most molecular phylogeny studies focus on the genus Drosophila and related genera. Currently, there is no overview of the more than 100 articles using molecular techniques to reconstruct the phylogeny.