A few chemical words exchanged byDrosophila during courtship and mating


Experimental evidence and speculation relative to chemical messages exchanged byDrosophila during courtship and mating are reviewed. Only the speciesD. melanogaster andD. simulans are considered in detail.

Emphasis is put on female aphrodisiacs, as they clearly participate in sex and species recognition. All the aphrodisiac molecules described are unsaturated long-chain hydrocarbons, and position 7 for a double bond seems important in both species. InD. melanogaster, only females are able to make 7,11-dienes, compounds which stimulate males of this species to court. InD. simulans, 7-tricosene plays a similar role but is produced by both sexes as well as maleD. melanogaster. In both species, polymorphism is shown for these molecules. Their biosynthesis is also considered and both preliminary biochemical and genetic data are introduced.

Male-specific compounds which regulate male and female behaviors are also reviewed. For example,cis-vaccenyl acetate inhibits male courtship; one or two peptides control the female's receptivity and egg laying. Such compounds are transferred from males to females together with sperm.


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Jallon, J. A few chemical words exchanged byDrosophila during courtship and mating. Behav Genet 14, 441–478 (1984) doi:10.1007/BF01065444

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Key Words

  • Drosophila
  • courtship
  • pheromones