Courtship affects gene expression in flies

January 13th, 2011 - 3:11 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 13 (ANI): A new study has suggested that courtship behaviors may be far more influenced by genes than previously thought.

Scientists from Texas made an important step toward understanding human mating behavior by showing that certain genes become activated in fruit flies when they interact with the opposite sex.

This research has shown has also shed light on why and how these genes become activated within social contexts may also lead to insight into disorders such as autism.

“Be careful who you interact with. The choice may affect your physiology, behavior and health in unexpected ways,” said Ginger E. Carney, co-author of the research study.

To make this discovery, the scientists compared gene expression profiles in males that courted females, males that interacted with other males, and males that did not interact with other flies.

The investigators identified a common set of genes that respond to the presence of either sex. They also discovered that there are other genes that are only affected by being placed with members of a particular sex, either male or female. Researchers then tested mutant flies that are missing some of these socially responsive genes and confirmed that these particular genes are important for behavior.

The scientists predict that analyzing additional similar genes will give further insight into genes and neural signaling pathways that influence reproductive and other behavioral interactions.

The findings were published in the journal Genetics. (ANI)

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