Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Courtship affects gene expression in flies, study finds

Date:
January 13, 2011
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
Biologists have made an important step toward understanding human mating behavior by showing that certain genes become activated in fruit flies when they interact with the opposite sex. Their research shows that courtship behaviors may be far more influenced by genetics than previously thought. In addition, this new understanding as to why and how these genes become activated within social contexts may also lead to insight into disorders such as autism.

A new study suggests that being around the opposite sex activates genes in fruit flies that cause them to perform certain courtship behaviors.
Credit: iStockphoto

Biologists at Texas A&M University have made an important step toward understanding human mating behavior by showing that certain genes become activated in fruit flies when they interact with the opposite sex.

Their research, published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Genetics, shows that courtship behaviors may be far more influenced by genetics than previously thought. In addition, this new understanding as to why and how these genes become activated within social contexts may also lead to insight into disorders such as autism.

"Be careful who you interact with," said Dr. Ginger E. Carney, associate professor of biology and co-author of the study. "The choice may affect your physiology, behavior and health in unexpected ways."

To make this discovery, Carney and a student in her laboratory, Lisa L. Ellis, compared gene expression profiles in males that courted females, males that interacted with other males and males that did not interact with other flies. The investigators identified a common set of genes that respond to the presence of either sex. They also discovered that there are other genes which are only affected by being placed with members of a particular sex, either male or female. The researchers then tested mutant flies that were missing some of these socially responsive genes and confirmed that these particular genes are important for behavior.

Carney and Ellis predict that analyzing additional similar genes will give further insight into genes and neural signaling pathways that influence reproductive and other behavioral interactions.

"This study shows that we're closing in on the complex genetic machinery that affects social interactions," said Mark Johnston, editor-in-chief of Genetics. "Once similar genes are identified in humans, the implications will be enormous, as it could bring new understanding of, and perhaps even treatments for, a vast range of disorders related to social behavior."

Carney, who joined the Texas A&M Department of Biology faculty in 2004, earned her Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Georgia in 1998. She held positions as a postdoctoral researcher at Oregon State University (1998-2002) and as a faculty research scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology (2002-2004) prior to coming to Texas A&M, where her research focuses on the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and its genetic control of behavior and nervous system development.

Ellis earned her doctorate in biology from Texas A&M in August and now works as a research assistant in the Texas A&M Department of Entomology affiliated with Texas AgriLife Research.

Because fruit flies undergo many of the same developmental processes as larger creatures, including humans, Carney said they serve as model organisms, allowing researchers to observe details that can't necessarily be seen in more complex animals. Through this study and her future research, she hopes to learn more about how individual genes regulate behaviors from mating to central nervous system function in humans.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. L. Ellis, G. E. Carney. Socially-Responsive Gene Expression in Male Drosophila melanogaster Is Influenced by the Sex of the Interacting Partner. Genetics, 2010; 187 (1): 157 DOI: 10.1534/genetics.110.122754

Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Courtship affects gene expression in flies, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110112110745.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2011, January 13). Courtship affects gene expression in flies, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110112110745.htm
Texas A&M University. "Courtship affects gene expression in flies, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110112110745.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins