, Volume 97, Issue 1, pp 73–80 | Cite as

World-wide variation inDrosophila melanogaster sex pheromone: behavioural effects, genetic bases and potential evolutionary consequences

  • Jean-François Ferveur
  • Matthew Cobb
  • Hocine Boukella
  • Jean-Marc Jallon


InDrosophila melanogaster, male wing vibration, a key element of courtship behaviour, is most efficiently induced by a female-specific contact pheromonecis, cis 7,11 heptacosadiene (7, 11 HD), which is the main mature female cuticular hydrocarbon in the CS laboratory strain. A study of 63 strains from around the world revealed that flies from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are unique in showing low levels 7,11 HD and high levels of the position isomer 5,9 HD. This difference maps to chromosome III, perhaps indicating a simple genetic control of the 7,11 HD: 5,9 HD ratio. Females from strains with high levels of 7,11 HD showed higher levels of mating and mated more rapidly than females with low levels of 7,11 HD. The results are discussed in light of recent discoveries of genetic differences betweenD. melanogaster strains from Africa and those from elsewhere around the world.

Key words

Drosophila melanogaster pheromones mating 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Antony, C. & J.-M. Jallon, 1982. The chemical basis for sex recognition inDrosophila melanogaster. J. Insect Physiol. 28: 873–880.Google Scholar
  2. Antony, C., T. L. Davis, D. A. Carlson, J.-M. Péchiné & J.-M. Jallon, 1985. Compared behavioral responses of maleDrosophila melanogaster (Canton S) to natural and synthetic aphrodisiaes. J. Chem. Ecol. 11: 1617–1629.Google Scholar
  3. Ashburner, M., 1989.Drosophila: A laboratory handbook. (Cold Spring Harbor: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press).Google Scholar
  4. Bauer, S. J. & M. B. Sokolowski, 1985. A genetic analysis of path length and pupation height in a natural population ofDrosophila melanogaster. Can. J. Genet. Cytol. 27: 334–340.Google Scholar
  5. Begun, D. J. & C. F. Aquadro, 1993. African and North American population ofDrosophila melanogaster are very different at the DNA level. Nature 364: 548–550.Google Scholar
  6. van den Berg, M. J., G. Thomas, H. Hendriks & W. van Velden, 1984. A reexamination of the negative assortative mating phenomenon and its underlying mechanism inDrosophila melanogaster. Behav. Genet. 14: 45–61.Google Scholar
  7. Cobb, M. & J.-M. Jallon, 1990. Pheromones, mate recognition and courtship stimulation in theDrosophila melanogaster species sub-group. Anim. Behav. 39: 1058–1067.Google Scholar
  8. Cobb, M., B. Burnet & K. Connolly, 1988. Sexual isolation and courtship behavior inDrosophila simulans, D. mauritiana, and their interspecific hybrids. Behav. Genet. 18: 211–225.Google Scholar
  9. Cobb, M., B. Burnet, R. Blizard & J.-M. Jallon, 1990. Altered mating behavior in a Carsonian population ofDrosophila sechellia. Evolution 44: 2057–2068.Google Scholar
  10. Cohet, Y. & J. R. David, 1980. Geographic divergence and sexual behaviour: Comparison of mating systems in French and Afrotropical populations ofDrosophila melanogaster. Genetica 54: 161–165.Google Scholar
  11. Connolly, K., B. Burnet, M. Kearny & L. Eastwood, 1974. Mating speed and courtship behaviour of inbred strains ofDrosophila melanogaster. Behaviour 48: 61–74.Google Scholar
  12. Coyne, A. J., A. P. Crittenden & K. Mah, 1994. Genetics of a pheromonal difference contributing to reproductive isolation inDrosophila. Science 265: 1461–1464.Google Scholar
  13. David, J. R. & P. Capy, 1988. Genetic variation ofDrosophila melanogaster natural populations. Trends Genet 4: 106–111.Google Scholar
  14. Eastwood, L. & B. Burnet 1977. Courtship latency in maleDrosophila melanogaster. Behav. Genet. 7: 359–372.Google Scholar
  15. Ewing, A., 1983. Functional aspects ofDrosophila courtship. Biol. Rev. 58: 275–292.Google Scholar
  16. Ferveur, J.-F., 1991. Genetic control of pheromones inDrosophila simulans. I. Ngbo, a locus on the second chromosome. Genetics 128: 293–301.Google Scholar
  17. Giddings, L. V. & A. R. Templeton, 1983. Behavioral phylogenies and the direction of evolution. Science 220: 372–378.Google Scholar
  18. Henderson, N. R. & D. M. Lambert, 1982. No significant deviation from random mating of world-wide populations ofDrosophila melanogaster. Nature 300: 437–440.Google Scholar
  19. Jallon, J.-M., 1984. A few chemical words exchanged byDrosophila during courtship and mating. Behav. Genet. 14: 441–476.Google Scholar
  20. Jallon, J.-M. & J.-M. Péchiné, 1989. Une autre race chimique deDrosophila melanogaster en Afrique. C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris 309: 1551–1556.Google Scholar
  21. Kaneshiro, K. Y., 1976. Ethological isolation and phyologeny in theplanitibia subgroup of HawalanDrosophila. Evolution30: 740–745.Google Scholar
  22. Klun, J. A. & M. D. Huettel, 1988. Genetic regulation of sex pheromone production and response interaction of sympatric pheromonal types of European corn borer,Ostriana nubilatis (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). J. Chem. Ecol. 14: 2047–2061.Google Scholar
  23. Kyriacou, Ch. P. & J. C. Hall, 1984. Learning and memory mutations impair acoustic priming of mating behaviour inDrosophila. Nature 308, 62–65.Google Scholar
  24. Lemeunier, F., J. R. David, L. Tsacas & M. Ashburner, 1986. Themelanogaster species group. In Genetics and Biology of Drosophila (Vol. 3E) (eds M. Ashburner, H. L. Carson & J. N. Thompson) pp. 147–256. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  25. Löefstedt, C., B. S. Hansson, W. Roelfs & B. O. Bengtsson, 1989. No linkage between genes controlling female pheromone production and male pheromone response in the European corn borner,Ostrinia nubilalis Hûbner (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Genetics 123: 555–556.Google Scholar
  26. Luyten, I., 1982. Variations intraspécifique et interspécifique des hydrocarbures cuticulaires chezDrosophila simulans et des espèces affines. C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris 295: 733–736.Google Scholar
  27. Ringo, J. M., H. N. Dowse & S. Lagasse, 1986. Symmetry versus asymmetry in sexual isolation experiments. Evolution 40: 1071–1083.Google Scholar
  28. von Schilcher, F., 1976. The rôle of auditory stimuli in the courtship ofDrosophila melanogaster. Anim. Behav. 24: 18–26.Google Scholar
  29. Singh, R. S. & L. R. Rhomberg, 1987. A comprehensive study of genic variation in natural populations ofDrosophila melanogaster. I. Estimation of gene flow from rare alleles. Genetics 115: 313–322.Google Scholar
  30. Toolson, E. C. & R. Kuper-Simbrón, 1989. Laboratory evolution of epicuticular hydrocarbon composition inD. pseudoobscura: effects on sexual dimorphism and thermal acclimation ability, Evolution 43: 468–473.Google Scholar
  31. Venard, R., Antony, C. & J.-M. Jallon, 1989.Drosophila chemoreceptors. In Neurobiology of Sensory Systems (eds N. Singh & N. J. Strausfeld) pp. 377–385. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  32. Watanabe, T. K. & M. Kawanishi, 1979. Mating preference and the direction of evolution inDrosophila. Science 205: 906–907.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-François Ferveur
    • 1
  • Matthew Cobb
    • 1
  • Hocine Boukella
    • 1
  • Jean-Marc Jallon
    • 1
  1. 1.Mecanismes de Communication, NAM CNRS URA 1491Université Paris-SudOrsayFrance

Personalised recommendations