A model organism is a well established experimental biological system. Common model organisms include: yeast (eg. Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe); some plants (eg. Arabidopsis thaliana); flys (eg. Drosophila); worms (eg. C. elegans); fish (eg. zebra fish) and mice (eg. Mus musculus).
There are many characteristics which an organism must suit in order for it to be an effective model organism. Some of these characteristics include;
- Rapid rate of development (to maturity)
- Easily manipulated (genetically)
- Short life span (life cycle)
- Readily available (source / stocks)
- Large numbers offspring per generation
Yeast, S. cerevisiae, is widely used as a model organism as it has simple Unicellular properties and so can represent the most basic of processes in higher eukaryotes. It is known for being as closely related to plants as it is to animals and is easily grown and manipulated. Yeast also has a very small genome so is very useful when studying genetics.
Even though an organism can be well suited to being used as a model organism, there can also be some features that are not advantageous. For example, having similar proteins with different functions to that of humans mean that they cannot be used to study that particular proteins function. This may cause a problem during studies as it may cause anomalies in the results[[|]].