Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fruit fly sperm makes females do housework after sex

01.10.2009
The sperm of male fruit flies are coated with a chemical 'sex peptide' which inhibits the female's usual afternoon siesta and compels her into an intense period of foraging activity.

The surprise discovery was made by Professor Elwyn Isaac from the University of Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences when investigating the marked differences in sleeping patterns between virgin and mated females.

Both male and female fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) – commonly seen hovering around rotting fruit and vegetables - are active at dawn and dusk, and have a deep sleep at night. They also exhibit a marked 'resting state' during the afternoon, which Professor Isaac likens to a siesta that conserves the fly's energy and reduces damaging exposure to the sun during hot afternoons.

"However, we noted that after mating, females still slept deeply at night, but ditched the usual siesta in favour of extra foraging and searching for places to lay her eggs," he says. "This behaviour lasts for around eight days – and our research findings suggest that this change is not by choice. Females who mated with males that produced sperm without the sex peptide continued to take their siesta. So we're certain that this change of behaviour is chemically induced by the male."

"Sleep is an ancient and essential mechanism in living creatures from worms to humans, so to inhibit this for such a long period and replace it with extra activity that exposes the female to environmental hazards and danger from predators must require a powerful mechanism," he says.

The sex peptide is produced in the males' accessory glands (the equivalent of the human prostate gland) and attaches itself to the surface of the sperm's tail. Previous research studies have shown that the sex peptide encourages females to increase egg production - a mated female will lay up to 100 eggs a day compared with 1-2 eggs laid by a virgin female. It also inhibits her from mating with other males for around a week to ten days.

"It would appear that preventing sleep and inducing extra domestic-type duties to prepare for the birth of offspring in females is a further tactic used by the male to ensure successful paternity after mating," says Professor Isaac.

Professor Isaac says that the discovery sheds further light on the role of signalling molecules in the brain. "If we can work out exactly how this natural molecular switch can disrupt sleep behaviour, we may be able to apply this knowledge to neurological disorders relating to human sleep such as narcolepsy, which we think is caused by a fault in the neuropeptide signalling pathway in the brain."

Fruit flies are a good model for looking at sleep behaviour in humans as they exhibit many of the hallmarks of mammalian sleep. For example they sleep deeply at night from which they're difficult to rouse and they have a preferred sleeping posture. If kept awake through the night, they exhibit tiredness the next day; if fed caffeine, they stay awake, and they become drowsy if given antihistamines. The fruit fly's genome has also been fully mapped, so wide ranging genetic studies are possible.

Jo Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>