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What is wild? Odor attraction among different wildtype Drosophila
Date:10/2/2008

in nature, are very likely to show the original phenotype of Drosophila melanogaster behavior: they respond as other insect species also do very selectively to host signals and do not just rely on one single odor that is stimulating their antennae. Moreover, the insects' behavior is not only regulated positively by attractive odors, but also negatively by deterring volatile signals, for instance emitted by fruits that are not on the animals' menu," says Bill Hansson, director of the Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena.

D. melanogaster varieties that have been bred in laboratories for years, especially Canton-S and both Oregon-R-C and R-S, were not as selective in the experiments as the newly collected Swedish Helsingborg flies were. This may be the result of genetic differences between varieties that evolved in different geographical locations, or the consequence of artificial selection of the flies - in the course of breeding them in the labs of geneticists and neurobiologists. The experiments further showed that the different behaviors of the eight Drosophila varieties cannot be diagnosed just as impaired olfactory mechanisms linked to particular genetic flaws, for instance caused by the absence or the mutation of a specific odor receptor. The behaviors are rather the result of adaptations of evolving Drosophila melanogaster ecotypes to different habitats and living conditions, and therefore to different odor compositions.

Insect traps that use chemical attractants or pheromones to lure insects are becoming more and more important in modern agriculture. With the help of these traps, insect pests can be controlled, e.g. in vineyards and orchards. The traps are also used to monitor pest infestation levels in crop fields. The results of this study increases our understanding of insect odor-directed behavior, and will help to improve such insect traps and to develop more efficien
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Contact: Bill S. Hansson
hansson@ice.mpg.de
49-364-157-1400
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Source:Eurekalert  

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