London, Oct 15 (ANI): Absence of certain pheromones turn fruit flies into sexy Marilyn Monroes, irresistible to males not only from its own but other species as well, reveals a new study.
In the University of Toronto Mississauga laboratory, Professor Joel Levine's team genetically tweaked fruit flies so that they didn't produce certain pheromones, called cuticular hydrocarbon pheromones.
And the absence of these pheromones triggered a sexual tsunami, which led fruit flies to produce bugs so irresistible that normal male fruit flies attempted to mate with pheromone-free males and even females from a different species - generally a no-no in the fruit fly dating scene.
The study points to a link between sex, species recognition and a specific chemical mechanism.
"This is important not only from the point of view of understanding social dynamics, but it's also fundamental biology, because these pheromones provide recognition cues that facilitate reproductive behaviour. Lacking these chemical signals (pheromones) eliminated barriers to mating. It turned out that males of other species were attracted to females who didn't have these signals, so that seemed to eliminate the species barrier," Nature quoted Levine as saying.
In the study, the researchers focused on how individual Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) know what their species is and what their sex is.
While previous studies had suggested that pheromones played an important role, Levine's team decided to genetically eliminate cuticular hydrocarbon pheromones to determine their particular effect.
The researchers found that female flies bred without the hydrocarbons were melanogaster Marilyn Monroes to normal males.
But the effect didn't stop there, as males lacking the hydrocarbons were also sexually irresistible.
In fact, females lacking the hydrocarbons were so sexy that males of other Drosophila species courted them.
When the researchers treated females bred without the hydrocarbons with a female aphrodisiac, it restored the barrier preventing sex between species, suggesting that a single compound can provide species identity.
"That means the same chemical signals and genes are underlying not only social behaviour in groups, like courtship and mating, but also behaviour between species," said Levine.
The study has been published in the latest issue of Nature. (ANI)