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Current models of human cardiac disease may be similar in anatomy and physiology, but are often expensive and tedious to work with. The current need is for a model organism that is more efficient to work with in lab while still an accurate model of human cardiac disease, of which Drosophila melanogaster (D. mel) is a candidate as it is a more efficient organism to work with in lab. To test whether D. mel could be used as a model for human cardiac disease, the medications atropine and propranolol hydrochloride were used. I hypothesized that atropine and propranolol hydrochloride in the growth media of third instar larvae would cause an increase and decrease respectively in the heart rates of D. mel.


After larvae hatched and reached the second instar larval phase, they were moved to fresh vials. The control group larvae were moved to vials containing no medication and the experimental group larvae were moved to vials with 1mM atropine or 1mM propranolol hydrochloride. The larvae inhabited the new vials for 24 hours, or until advancing to the third instar larvae stage. At this point, the heart rates were recorded in fifteen second intervals for each larva. The three heart rates for each of the fifty larvae in each group were averaged and these values were analyzed to obtain averages for the three groups.


The control group had an average heart rate of 387.653 beats per minute with a standard error of 2.068. The atropine group had an average heart rate of 406.373 beats per minute with a standard error of 2.699. The propranolol hydrochloride group had an average heart rate of 273.544 beats per minute with a standard error of 3.179.


The hypothesis was supported as propranolol hydrochloride decreased heart rate and atropine increased heart rate. This was confirmed by a t-test. Future research in this area should consider a blind study to eliminate any bias from the researcher recording heart rate. In addition, future research should consider utilizing software to measure heart rate to eliminate human error. The data suggests that D. mel could be used in preliminary pharmaceutical testing for new medication.

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