Study looks at fruit fly sexual attraction

April 19, 2006

U.S. scientists with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute say in the frantic world of the fruit fly, courtship may depend on having the right wing spots.

The researchers have reportedly determined which elements of fly DNA make the spots appear and disappear in different species.

The experiments are among the first to identify "the deep mechanics of evolution" that underpin complex traits, said the study's senior author Sean Carroll, a Howard Hughes researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The scientists say their findings emphasize the evolutionary significance of "pleiotropic" genes -- those with multiple on-switches that enable the expression of a single gene in different tissues or at different stages of development.

"The wing spot on the fruit fly is a particularly good model because we know it constitutes a new feature that is gained or lost by evolution in different species," said Carroll. "And, since it is a spatial pattern, it gives us a chance to analyze the evolution of a physical trait."

Carroll's team collaborated with researchers from the University of Cambridge and Stony Brook University.

The study appears in the current issue of the journal Nature.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: New fruit fly research pinpoints genomic hallmarks of human high altitude adaptation

Related Stories

Speedy evolution affects more than one species

October 22, 2015

The concept that biodiversity feeds upon itself is not uncommon in the world of evolution. The problem is a lack of hard data that shows this process to be naturally occurring.

Flies can make a buzz in schools

October 14, 2015

Researchers from The University of Manchester have developed a new way of teaching which could improve the way biology is taught at schools.

Knee-deep in spider leg evolution

October 6, 2015

Authors Nikola-Michael Prpic et al., in a new study appearing in the advanced online edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution, have identified the driving force behind the evolution of a leg novelty first found in spiders: ...

Recommended for you

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...

The hottest white dwarf in the Galaxy

November 25, 2015

Astronomers at the Universities of Tübingen and Potsdam have identified the hottest white dwarf ever discovered in our Galaxy. With a temperature of 250,000 degrees Celsius, this dying star at the outskirts of the Milky ...

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.