A male flys sexual courtship of a female fly is a complicated business of tapping, singing, wing vibration, and licking, but a single gene is all that is needed to produce this complex behavior, according to new research published in this weeks issue of the journal Cell.
The gene encodes the Fruitless protein. Male and female flies carry different versions of the fruitless protein, as a result of sex-specific splicing of the mRNA. The male form of Fruitless is critical for the male courtship ritual and males preference for mating with females, as previous studies have shown.
Now, Barry J. Dickson and Ebru Demir of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences show just how intimately fruitless is linked to these stereotypically male behaviors. They discovered that female flies with the male version of fruitless behave like males, directing at other females a sexual display nearly identical to their male counterparts.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
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