HomePLANTS & ANIMALSEvolutionMale fruit flies found to transfer chemical to females to induce sleep,...

Male fruit flies found to transfer chemical to females to induce sleep, so they won’t mate with other males

A team of researchers from Argentina’s Bariloche Atomic Center and Fundación Instituto Leloir, IIBBA and CONICET have discovered that male fruit flies inject females with a chemical. It causes them to sleep after mating so that they do not mate with other males.

The group describes how they studied fruit fly reproduction in their lab. They have used webcams for their study. The study has been published in the open access journal PLOS Genetics.

The researchers raised a group of fruit flies in their lab for the study. They then installed webcams to monitor the flies’ activity for four days at a time.

The researchers discovered from the video evidence that the only females who awoke and began flying around in the morning after the lights were turned on were virgins. Scientists suspected that the peptide injected into the female during mate was to blame for the sleepiness.

The researchers repeated the experiment. But this time they turned off the neurons in several of the females that responded to the peptide before allowing them to copulate.

The researchers’ suspicions were confirmed when the females with disabled neurons, along with the virgins, awoke just before the lights went on. This suggests that, in addition to influencing how a female smells to other potential mates, the peptide travels to the brain and interacts with parts of the brain involved in sleep. They conclude by claiming that males’ behaviour is a strategy. It has evolved over time to help them ensure successful offspring production.

More information: Sabrina Riva et al, Mating disrupts morning anticipation in Drosophila melanogaster females, PLOS Genetics (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1010258


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