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Flying Drosophila show sex-specific attraction to fly-labelled food

Abstract : Animals searching for food and sexual partners often use odourant mixtures combining food-derived molecules and pheromones. For orientation, the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster uses three types of chemical cues: (i) the male volatile pheromone 11-cis-vaccenyl acetate (cVA), (ii) sex-specific cuticular hydrocarbons (CHs; and CH-derived compounds), and (iii) food-derived molecules resulting from microbiota activity. To evaluate the effects of these chemicals on odour-tracking behaviour, we tested Drosophila individuals in a wind tunnel. Upwind flight and food preference were measured in individual control males and females presented with a choice of two food sources labelled by fly lines producing varying amounts of CHs and/or cVA. The flies originated from different species or strains, or their microbiota was manipulated. We found that (i) fly-labelled food could attract-but never repel-flies; (ii) the landing frequency on fly-labelled food was positively correlated with an increased flight duration; (iii) male-but not female or non-sex-specific-CHs tended to increase the landing frequency on fly-labelled food; (iv) cVA increased female-but not male-preference for cVA-rich food; and (v) microbiota-derived compounds only affected male upwind flight latency. Therefore, sex pheromones interact with food volatile chemicals to induce sex-specific flight responses in Drosophila.
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Laurie Cazalé-Debat, Benjamin Houot, Jean-Pierre Farine, Claude Everaerts, Jean-François Ferveur. Flying Drosophila show sex-specific attraction to fly-labelled food. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, 9 (1), pp.14947. ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-51351-1⟩. ⟨hal-02384135⟩



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