Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Mate choice is based on the comparison of the sensory quality of potential mating partners, and sex pheromones play an important role in this process. In Drosophila melanogaster, contact pheromones differ between male and female in their content and in their effects on male courtship, both inhibitory and stimulatory. To investigate the genetic basis of sex pheromone discrimination, we experimentally selected males showing either a higher or lower ability to discriminate sex pheromones over 20 generations. This experimental selection was carried out in parallel on two different genetic backgrounds: wild-type and desat1 mutant, in which parental males showed high and low sex pheromone discrimination ability respectively. Male perception of male and female pheromones was separately affected during the process of selection. A comparison of transcriptomic activity between high and low discrimination lines revealed genes not only that varied according to the starting genetic background, but varied reciprocally. Mutants in two of these genes, Shaker and quick-to-court, were capable of producing similar effects on discrimination on their own, in some instances mimicking the selected lines, in others not. This suggests that discrimination of sex pheromones depends on genes whose activity is sensitive to genetic context and provides a rare, genetically defined example of the phenomenon known as “allele flips,” in which interactions have reciprocal effects on different genetic backgrounds.
Digital Commons Citation
Houot, Benjamin; Fraichard, Stephane; Greenspan, Ralph J.; and Ferveur, Jean-Francois, "Genes Involved in Sex Pheromone Discrimination in Drosophila melanogaster and Their Background-Dependent Effect" (2012). Faculty & Staff Scholarship. 2720.
Houot B, Fraichard S, Greenspan RJ, Ferveur J-F (2012) Genes Involved in Sex Pheromone Discrimination in Drosophila melanogaster and Their Background-Dependent Effect. PLoS ONE 7(1): e30799. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0030799