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Scientists Make Fruit Flies Even Fruitier

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  • Scientists Make Fruit Flies Even Fruitier

    (And the article is from a San Francisco newspaper no less.)

    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...17/MN32316.DTL

    Study finds chemical link to sex attraction
    Male fruit flies court each other after brain alteration


    Carl T. Hall, Chronicle Science Writer

    Tuesday, September 17, 2002

    Male fruit flies can be induced to court other males by blocking a little-known chemical messenger system in the brain, scientists reported Monday.

    The study is the latest evidence suggesting that even the most complex behavior patterns can sometimes be tied to basic neurobiology. But how much light it sheds on sexual orientation in humans is very much an open question.

    Previous studies have shown that several genes can influence mating behaviors in the Drosophila fruit fly, a popular laboratory model for gene studies.

    The new research appears to be the first to identify a particular "neuronal pathway" -- a collection of brain cells, receptors and chemical transmitters in the brain -- capable of eliciting male-male courtship. The study by scientists at the City of Hope Medical Center is published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Lead researcher Toshihiro Kitamoto introduced a temperature-sensitive mutant gene into certain brain cells of male flies. The effect was to disrupt the flies' normal response to pheromones, chemical signals secreted by one fly to influence behavior in another.

    Male fruit flies generally respond powerfully to female pheromones and rarely pay any heed to sex signals of fellow males. But the male flies with the mutant gene, called "shibire," when activated by warm temperatures, instantly switched their attentions to other males, Kitamoto found.

    The modified flies formed long "courtship chains," the researchers noted, one fly vigorously courting the next in a kind of X-rated Drosophila line dance, exhibiting such behaviors as curling of the abdomen to achieve genital- genital contact, "tapping the partner's abdomen with the forelegs, unilateral wing vibration, and licking of the partner's genitalia."

    Researchers said the study suggest male-male courtship is ordinarily suppressed by the activity of so-called cholinergic neurons, a system seemingly designed to make male flies responsive to "anti-aphrodisiac sex hormones" to keep their sexual attentions focused on mating with females.

    By switching off that set of neurons, the result was "high levels of intermale interactions," the researchers found.

    Scientists familiar with the new study said it should be interpreted cautiously as far as any hint of the neurobiological underpinnings of human behavior. At the same time, they noted that the same chemical messengers are found in flies and people.

    "Almost all the important signaling molecules in humans are there in fruit flies," said neurobiologist Wendi Neckameyer at St. Louis University Medical School, who also studies genetics and behavior in Drosophila.

    "Are the pathways the same? No. But the basic mechanisms we find in Drosophila are very likely conserved" during evolution," she said. "A system is put in place and if something works, it stays. The refinements are put in later."

    The fundamental point, she said, is that biology and brain chemistry, along with environmental cues, are important in explaining behaviors.

    "What this says is there are real neurochemical bases for behavior, which is not to say that everything is neurogenetically inherited, either," she said.

    "Flies have a lot of hardwired behaviors, like reproduction, but these can be modified by environmental conditions

  • #2
    Lol
    2007 IS THE YEAR FOR RED SOX AND PATRIOTS!!!

    Comment


    • #3
      lol @ the title...

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by bowman_08
        lol @ the title...
        Yup.

        Comment


        • #5
          lol
          Never pass up an opportunity to keep your mouth shut.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by bowman_08
            lol @ the title...
            Yeah I seen it and laughed too lol

            Comment


            • #7
              Does that mean theyre gay? lol

              Comment


              • #8
                Lmao!

                Comment


                • #9
                  cool article

                  Comment

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