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Natural variation in the strength and direction of male mating preferences for female pheromones in Drosophila melanogaster.

  • Author(s): Pischedda, Alison
  • Shahandeh, Michael P
  • Cochrane, Wesley G
  • Cochrane, Veronica A
  • Turner, Thomas L
  • et al.
Abstract

Many animal species communicate using chemical signals. In Drosophila, cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) are involved in species and sexual identification, and have long been thought to act as stimulatory pheromones as well. However, a previous study reported that D. melanogaster males were more attracted to females that were lacking CHCs. This surprising result is consistent with several evolutionary hypotheses but is at odds with other work demonstrating that female CHCs are attractive to males. Here, we investigated natural variation in male preferences for female pheromones using transgenic flies that cannot produce CHCs. By perfuming females with CHCs and performing mate choice tests, we found that some male genotypes prefer females with pheromones, some have no apparent preference, and at least one male genotype prefers females without pheromones. This variation provides an excellent opportunity to further investigate the mechanistic causes and evolutionary implications of divergent pheromone preferences in D. melanogaster males.

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