Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fruit fly turn-on: A sexy, youthful smell may make up for advancing age

Date:
February 9, 2012
Source:
University of Michigan Health System
Summary:
Beauty is more than skin deep, at least for fruit flies studied in new research that demonstrates how age-related changes in pheromone production can reduce sexual attractiveness.

Beauty is more than skin deep, at least for fruit flies studied in new research that demonstrates how age-related changes in pheromone production can reduce sexual attractiveness.

Related Articles


The study, published Feb. 9 in The Journal of Experimental Biology, examined how pheromones play a role in the sexual attractiveness and aging process of the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, says Scott D. Pletcher, Ph.D., senior author of the study and Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Michigan's Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology and research associate professor at the Institute of Gerontology.

Researchers first showed that older flies were significantly less attractive than younger flies. They then discovered that the profiles of different pheromones that flies produce, called cuticular hydrocarbons, change with age. Pheromones are chemicals produced by an organism to communicate or attract another.

Using a specially designed holding arena, researchers introduced a male fly into a chamber that contained two females -- a young fly and an old fly. The females were decapitated, to eliminate the chances they'd influence the male fly with their behavior.

Researchers used state-of-the-art video tracking software to accurately assess the behavior of the male fly. Those videos showed that the male was much more attracted to the young fly. Similar experiments revealed that the same was true for females; they preferred younger males.

But later, researchers later removed the pheromones on young and old flies.They reapplied either pheromones from young or old flies to those blank flies and found that the choosing males preferred flies covered with the young pheromone.

"Our research showed this attractiveness was driven by the production of this cuticular hydrocarbon," says Pletcher. "We found in the end that regardless of the age of the fly, the choosing flies really went crazy for the flies that carried the young pheromone." Because the fruit flies live just 60 to 90 days, they are a powerful tool for studying aging. As they age, their appearance does change. These results are important for studying what impacts the fruit fly lifespan.

"This is new because we have direct evidence that the pheromones produced at these different ages affect sexual attractiveness differently," said Tsung-Han Kuo , a graduate student in the department of molecular and human genetics and the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor College of Medicine who was the first author of the report.

This doesn't mean there's hope that fruit fly pheromone is a love potion to attract a mate before Valentine's Day, Pletcher says, but it does provide some exciting insight into whether there is a connection between attractiveness and health.

"We're excited about these results because they may help us leverage our knowledge of the mechanisms that drive the aging process. This research indicates that the mechanisms important for aging also influence outward attractiveness," Pletcher says. "Our hope is we can take a trait like attractiveness and study the connection between attractiveness and health."

Additional authors include Herman A. Dierick of Baylor College of Medicine; Joanne Y. Yew of the National University of Singapore; Tatyana Y. Fedina of the University of Michigan; and Klaus Dreisewerd of the University of Mόnster.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T.-H. Kuo, J. Y. Yew, T. Y. Fedina, K. Dreisewerd, H. A. Dierick, S. D. Pletcher. Aging modulates cuticular hydrocarbons and sexual attractiveness in Drosophila melanogaster. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2012; 215 (5): 814 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.064980

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan Health System. "Fruit fly turn-on: A sexy, youthful smell may make up for advancing age." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120209101456.htm>.
University of Michigan Health System. (2012, February 9). Fruit fly turn-on: A sexy, youthful smell may make up for advancing age. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120209101456.htm
University of Michigan Health System. "Fruit fly turn-on: A sexy, youthful smell may make up for advancing age." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120209101456.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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