Production of reactive oxygen species by the mitochondrial electron transport chain in Drosophila melanogaster

Alberto Sanz*, Rhoda Stefanatos, George McIlroy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Mitochondrial free radicals and in particular mitochondrial Reactive Oxygen Species (mtROS) are considered to be totally or partially responsible for several different diseases including Parkinson, diabetes or cancer. Even more importantly, mtROS have also been proposed as the main driving force behind the aging process. Thus, in the last decade, there has been a growing interest in the role of free radicals as signalling molecules. Collectively this makes understanding mechanisms controlling free radical production extremely important. There is extensive published literature on mammalian models (essentially rat, mouse and guinea pig) however; this is not the case in Drosophila melanogaster. Drosophila is an excellent model to study different physiological and pathological processes. Additionally a robust method to study mtROS is extremely useful. In the present article, we describe a simple--but extremely sensitive--method to study mtROS production in Drosophila. We have performed various experiments to determine which specific respiratory complexes produce free radicals in the electron transport chain of Drosophila melanogaster. Complex I is the main generator of ROS in Drosophila mitochondria, leaking electrons either in the forward or reverse direction. The production of ROS during reverse electron transport can be prevented either by rotenone or by the oxidation of NADH by complex I. These results clearly show that Drosophila mitochondria function in a very similar way to mammalian mitochondria, and therefore are a very relevant experimental model for biochemical studies related to ageing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-142
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of bioenergetics and biomembranes
Issue number2
Early online date19 Mar 2010
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • analysis of variance
  • animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • electron transport
  • electron transport chain complex proteins
  • male
  • mitochondria
  • models, animal
  • reactive oxygen species
  • rotenone


Dive into the research topics of 'Production of reactive oxygen species by the mitochondrial electron transport chain in Drosophila melanogaster'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this