Navigation Links
Battle of the sexes, fruit-fly style
Date:11/24/2010

BOSTON, Mass. (Nov. 23, 2010) Pity the female fruit fly. Being a looker is simply not enough. To get a date, much less a proposal, you have to act like a girl, even smell like one. Otherwise, you might just have a fight on your hands.

Like most animals, fruit flies must distinguish between a potential mate and a potential competitor. When a male fruit fly suspects he's encountered a female, he'll court; when he senses the other is a male, he'll fight. What triggers these sex-specific responses?

According to new research by scientists at Harvard Medical School, the answer lies with both pheromonal profiles and behavioral patterns. The researchers investigated the effects of taste and action by manipulating a gene that governs both the sex specificity of a fruit fly's body-surface hydrocarbons, or pheromones, and the sex-linked behavioral cues that issue through the dense nerve-cell network that constitutes the fly's brain.

"These findings underscore the importance of behavioral feedback in the manifestation of aggression," says Edward Kravitz, the George Packer Berry Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.

The research is published in the November 23 issue of PLoS Biology.

Mara de la Paz Fernndez and Yick-Bun Chan, post-doctoral researchers in the Kravitz lab, discovered these links to aggression when investigating whether a male fruit fly would ever attack a female. They focused on a particular gene called transformer, which is active in females but not in males. Through blocking transformer expression in a variety of different tissues in females, the researchers could specifically alter the "femaleness" or "maleness" of the pheromones, which in turn altered the patterns of aggressive behavior encoded in the fly's brain.

When they changed pheromone profiles so that females "tasted" like males, the researchers found that males would attack them. This indicated that pheromonal cues alone could label another fly as a competitor. But the researchers were surprised to discover that males also attacked "aggressive females"flies that still looked, smelled and tasted female but had been genetically altered to display male-like patterns of behavior.

When the researchers turned the tables by triggering the expression of transformer in males so as to feminize both the pheromonal and behavioral profiles, control males showed no aggression toward the transformed males. Instead, they began to court them. These results show that it is possible to completely reverse normal behavioral responses by presenting males with unanticipated and conflicting sensory cues.

"Future studies will aim at unraveling the neuronal circuitry that governs this type of decision-making behavior, as such decisions are essential for survival," says Kravitz. "With the powerful genetic methods available in fly neurobiology, it should be possible to dissect the decision-making circuitry at far greater levels of detail than have heretofore been possible in other species."

"This study addresses a classic question in animal behavior: What motivates an individual to do X rather than Y, or vice versa," said Laurie Tompkins, Ph.D., who manages Kravitz's and other behavioral genetics grants at the National Institutes of Health. "Because the general principles of how behaviors are controlled are conserved among species, Kravitz's conclusions about how flies make simple choices may illuminate how humans and other animals make more complex decisions."


'/>"/>

Contact: David Cameron
david_cameron@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0441
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. BD and FIND Achieve Milestone in Global Battle Against MDR-TB
2. Intensive Lifestyle Intervention Program for Overweight or Obese Patients with Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Reduces Weight and Improves Overall Liver Health
3. BodyMedia, Inc. Launches GowearFit, the First Direct-to-Consumer Lifestyle and Calorie Management System
4. Photos: Project Runways Tim Gunn Launches Addressing Psoriasis(TM) Campaign to Advocate That Patients Shouldnt Let Psoriasis Impact Personal Style
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... is exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will showcase its product’s latest ... ClinCapture will also be presenting a scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... new line of intelligent tools designed, tuned and optimized exclusively for Okuma CNC ... in Chicago. The result of a collaboration among several companies with expertise in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 ReportsnReports.com adds 2016 ... its pharmaceuticals section with historic and forecast data ... more. Complete report on the Cell ... 15 companies and supported with 261 tables and ... . The Global Cell Culture Media ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 22, 2016 Research and Markets has announced ... report to their offering. ... from $29.3 billion in 2013. The market is expected to grow ... 2015 to 2020, increasing from $50.6 billion in 2015 to $96.6 ... during the forecast period (2015 to 2020) are discussed. As well, ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:4/28/2016)... First quarter 2016:   , Revenues amounted ... quarter of 2015 The gross margin was 49% (27) ... the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings per share ... operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , Outlook   ... M. The operating margin for 2016 is estimated to ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... , UAE, April 20, 2016 ... implemented as a compact web-based "all-in-one" system solution for ... biometric fingerprint reader or the door interface with integration ... modern access control systems. The minimal dimensions of the ... readers into the building installations offer considerable freedom of ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... 2016 BioCatch ™, the ... announced the appointment of Eyal Goldwerger as ... Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at a time of ... deployment of its platform at several of the world,s ... discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, is a winner ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):