Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Complicated gene networks involved in fly aggression

Date:
September 30, 2011
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Put up your dukes. A study of aggression in fruit flies aims to provide a framework for how complex gene interactions affect behavior. And these clues in flies could translate to a better understanding of human genes and behavior.

Hyper-aggressive fruit flies box, albeit without the gloves. Aggressive flies have smaller brain portions and aren't necessarily soothed by mood-altering drugs.
Credit: Mark McLawhorn, NC State University

Fruit fly aggression is correlated with smaller brain parts, involves complex interactions between networks of important genes, and often cannot be controlled with mood-altering drugs like lithium.

Those are the results of a painstaking study conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University and colleagues in Belgium who are trying to discover what happens in the genes and brains of hyper-aggressive flies and how that differs from what takes place in more passive fly cousins.

Dr. Trudy Mackay, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished University Professor of Genetics and a co-lead author of a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that the findings in the fruit fly could one day lead to helping humans -- think of Alzheimer's patients who suddenly become more aggressive -- by providing a framework of how complex gene interactions affect behavior. Fruit flies are model organisms for studying genes and traits like aggression.

In the study, the researchers showed that making changes, or mutations, to a handful of genes made some passive flies aggressive and made some aggressive flies really aggressive. They also showed the effects of mating flies with different mutations to see which mutant combinations had larger effects on aggression.

The researchers also showed that certain portions of the fly brain -- the so-called mushroom bodies, which affect locomotion, experience and memory -- were smaller in the hyper-aggressive flies.

The study also showed that calming did not necessarily come through chemistry, as doses of lithium soothed some but not all of the aggressive flies. These mixed results were also evident when flies were given two other types of calming drugs.

"This study shows that these brain networks are not simple, and that you can't look at just one gene at a time," says study co-author Dr. Robert Anholt, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Biology at NC State.

The researchers measured aggression by watching for fly actions that include, in order from less aggressive to more aggressive: chasing other flies; puffing up their wings in a "wing threat" position; kicking other flies; and, for the roughest flies, standing on their back legs and boxing other flies with front legs.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. Zwarts, M. M. Magwire, M. A. Carbone, M. Versteven, L. Herteleer, R. R. H. Anholt, P. Callaerts, T. F. C. Mackay. Complex genetic architecture of Drosophila aggressive behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1113877108

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Complicated gene networks involved in fly aggression." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110929103220.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2011, September 30). Complicated gene networks involved in fly aggression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110929103220.htm
North Carolina State University. "Complicated gene networks involved in fly aggression." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110929103220.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
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