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Courtship evolution in Drosophila

Cande et al. (2014) Cell Reports (Gompel lab)


Looking Under the Lamp Post: Neither fruitless nor doublesex has evolved to generate divergent male courtship in Drosophila.

Cell Reports, in press.

Jessica Cande, David L. Stern, Tomoko Morita, Benjamin Prud’homme ,* and Nicolas Gompel

How do evolved genetic changes alter the nervous system to produce different patterns of behavior? This question is addressed using Drosophila male courtship behavior, which is innate, stereotyped and evolves rapidly between species. D. melanogaster male courtship requires the male-specific isoforms of two transcription factors, fruitless and doublesex. These genes underlie genetic switches between female and male behaviors, making them excellent candidate genes for courtship behavior evolution. Their role in courtship evolution was tested by transferring the entire
locus for each gene from divergent species to D. melanogaster. Despite differences in Fru+ and Dsx+ cell number in wild type species, cross-species transgenes rescued D. melanogaster courtship behavior, and no species-specific
behaviors were conferred. This shows that fru and dsx are not a significant source of evolutionary variation in courtship behavior.