Stem cells maintain organismal homeostasis by replenishing tissue with new differentiated cells in response to aging, injury and alternating environmental conditions. Perturbations in this process can lead to severe conditions such as cancer or tissue atrophy. In our research, we ask how is the organ size, shape and cellular composition determined during homeostatic tissue renewal as well as in diseased states. We are using a genetic model organism, fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, to understand this process. As a model tissue we use the intestine. Cellular turnover in the intestine is particularly high due to the passing of processed food as well as the microbiota derived stress agents, making it an ideal model to study organ homeostasis.
The intestine of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. (Cyan=nuclei, Green=clonal marker)