Bee Porn and Male-Male Courtship in Drosophila melanogaster

PNAS has a couple of interesting articles in the most recent edition. The first, The evolution of imperfect floral mimicry touches on a subject that fascinated Darwin. I don’t have access to the paper, but here is the abstract:

The theory of mimicry predicts that selection favors signal refinement in mimics to optimally match the signals released by their specific model species. We provide here chemical and behavioral evidence that a sexually deceptive orchid benefits from its mimetic imperfection to its co-occurring and specific bee model by triggering a stronger response in male bees, which react more intensively to the similar, but novel, scent stimulus provided by the orchid.

Interest is added by the inclusion of this movie in the supplemental material.
The second article, The evolution of courtship behaviors through the origination of a new gene in Drosophila, discusses the effects of a recently evolved gene on the behavior of Drosophila melanogaster. I don’t have access to this paper either, but Science Daily has a write up of the research:

In order to study the function of this two million-year-old gene, Hongzheng Dai and Ying Chen–former graduate students in Long’s lab and first authors of this study–created flies with a suppressed version of the sphinx gene, which is expressed in male reproductive glands. Loss of the gene produced no apparent changes.
“The flies looked normal,” Long said. But when the researchers put two males that lacked the sphinx gene together, they noticed that the males were “interested in other males.”

*snip*

“Species that don’t have this gene show more male-male courtship behavior than those that do have it,” Long said. “The absence or presence of the sphinx gene appears to regulate the diversity of male-male courtship behavior among flies. This suggests that the genetic control of male courtship is an evolving system, which can recruit new genetic components and change courtship behaviors.”

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3 Responses

  1. I got the first one. Need it? Send a yes to my address. As far as the second is concerned, I don’t get it. It means before the sphinx gene male-male courtship was more common, and the species got along well? Or maybe that before the gene, there was another type of genetic control, that was superseded by sphinx?
    Ciao

  2. I’ve sent both to afarensis’ mailbox (ha! It’s probably overflowing with pdfs now). It’s great to see that scientists have finally found the gay gene. Now we can engineer our fruit flies to act the way God intended.
    And either the page is drunk, or an i tag has escaped.

  3. I’ve sent both to afarensis’ mailbox (ha! It’s probably overflowing with pdfs now). It’s great to see that scientists have finally found the gay gene. Now we can engineer our fruit flies to act the way God intended.
    And either the page is drunk, or an i tag has escaped.

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