Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The buzz around beer: Why do flies like beer?

Date:
November 17, 2011
Source:
University of California - Riverside
Summary:
Ever wondered why flies are attracted to beer? Entomologists have, and offer an explanation. They report that flies sense glycerol that yeasts make during fermentation. Specifically, they found that Gr64e, a receptor associated with neurons located in the fly's mouth-parts, is instrumental in signaling a good taste for beer. Once a fly has settled on beer, Gr64e detects glycerol and transmits this information to the fly's neurons, thus influencing the fly's behavior.

Flies are attracted to beer because they detect glycerol, a sweet-tasting compound that yeasts make during fermentation.
Credit: Dahanukar lab, UC Riverside.

Ever wondered why flies are attracted to beer? Entomologists at the University of California, Riverside have, and offer an explanation. They report that flies sense glycerol, a sweet-tasting compound that yeasts make during fermentation.

"Insects use their taste system to glean important information about the quality and nutritive value of food sources," said Anupama Dahanukar, an assistant professor of entomology, whose lab conducted the research. "Sugars signal high nutritive value to flies, but little is known about which chemical cues flies use for food sources that are low in sugar content -- such as beer."

Dahanukar's lab examined the feeding preference of the common fruit fly for beer and other products of yeast fermentation, and found that a receptor (a protein that serves as a gatekeeper) that is associated with neurons located in the fly's mouth-parts is instrumental in signaling a good taste for beer.

The receptor in question is Gr64e. Once a fly has settled on beer, Gr64e detects glycerol and transmits this information to the fly's neurons, which then influences the fly's behavioral response.

Dahanukar explained that flies use other receptors in their sensory organs to find food from a distance.

"Taste becomes important only after the fly makes physical contact with food," she said. "A fly first locates food sources using its odor receptors -- crucial for its long-range attraction to food. Then, after landing on food, the fly uses its taste system to sample the food for suitability in terms of nutrition and toxicity."

Dahanukar, a member of UCR's Institute for Integrative Genome Biology, explained that taste receptors also come into play when a female fly has to locate a suitable site for laying eggs.

"Females come to a decision after they have conducted intense probing of various potential sites," she said.

Study results appeared online Nov. 6 in Nature Neuroscience.

Dahanukar was joined in the project by Zev Wisotsky, Adriana Medina, and Erica Freeman -- all of whom work in her lab.

Wisotsky, a neuroscience graduate student and the first author of the research paper, performed the imaging, taste electrophysiology and behavior experiments. He was joined in his efforts by Freeman, a bioengineering graduate student, who performed the olfactory recordings; and Medina, a junior specialist in entomology, who performed the feeding preference experiments and molecular analysis.

The lab is poised now to move the research forward.

"How do you get information from the chemical environment to the brain -- not just in flies but other insects as well?" Dahanukar said. "How is that information processed to give rise to appropriate behavior? How does feeding behavior change with hunger? These are some questions we would like pursue."

The research project was supported in part by a Whitehall Foundation research grant to Dahanukar and a fellowship from the National Science Foundation Integrated Graduate Education Research and Training Program in Video Bioinformatics to Freeman.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Riverside. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zev Wisotsky, Adriana Medina, Erica Freeman, Anupama Dahanukar. Evolutionary differences in food preference rely on Gr64e, a receptor for glycerol. Nature Neuroscience, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nn.2944

Cite This Page:

University of California - Riverside. "The buzz around beer: Why do flies like beer?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111117140635.htm>.
University of California - Riverside. (2011, November 17). The buzz around beer: Why do flies like beer?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111117140635.htm
University of California - Riverside. "The buzz around beer: Why do flies like beer?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111117140635.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. 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