Mother fruit flies use sex pheromones to veil eggs, preventing cannibalism

ScienceDaily | 1/10/2019 | Staff
DanRules394 (Posted by) Level 3
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Using a multidisciplinary approach, Dr. Roshan Vijendravarma from the Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland (currently at Institut Curie, Paris, France) and his team of international collaborators teased apart the chemical, sensory, genetic and mechanistic basis of deception using the Drosophila model system.

The team was intrigued by the observation that fruit fly larvae, despite their predatory nature, seldom attacked eggs in their vicinity even when deprived of food. While testing for various plausible defense mechanisms, the researchers found that the extremely thin wax layer within the egg shell acts as a protective barrier that prevents cannibalism.

Mass - Spectrometry - Molecules - Team - Wax

Using high-resolution mass spectrometry to identify the specific molecules involved, the team discovered that the wax layer is composed of a bouquet of sex pheromones originating from both parents, and then nailed the protective effect on a female chemical called 7,11-heptacosadiene (7,11-HD); this pheromone, normally used to spice up the adult flies' mating, was incorporated into the egg's wax layer by the mother.

It was already known that the adults need a gene called ppk23 for detecting the 7,11-HD pheromone during mating, so the authors looked to see whether the ppk23 gene played an analogous role in the larvae. They found that the gene was...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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