Public Release: 

Same gene, different mating techniques in flies

Society for Neuroscience

A study of two related species of fruit fly published in JNeurosci reveals that a gene known to regulate behavior for attracting a mate in one species gives rise to unique wooing techniques observed in the other species.

The neural circuitry underlying courtship behavior has been previously identified in the fruit fly species Drosophila melanogaster. These circuits are composed of neurons expressing the fruitless gene, which could form differently in different species.

Daisuke Yamamoto and colleagues explored the fruitless circuity in Drosophila subobscura, a related species that engages in unconventional mating tactics such as a male giving a potential mate a regurgitated "nuptial gift." The researchers confirmed that these circuits, which are similar to but distinct from those of D. melanogaster, are required for courtship and found that artificially activating them with light induced species-specific mating behaviors. The study points to the possibility that the same neurons in both species evolved to generate different behaviors as a result of acquired gene expression. Further research and new genetic techniques are required to test this hypothesis.

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Article: Optogenetic activation of the fruitless-labeled circuitry in Drosophila subobscura males induces mating motor acts

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1943-17.2017

Corresponding author: Daisuke Yamamoto (Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan), daichan@m.tohoku.ac.jp

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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