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Biochemistry

New Fruit Fly Pheromone Marks Promising Nursery Locations

Biochemistry: Promising real-estate is chemically tagged by males, directing females to lay eggs near food

by Sarah Everts
October 19, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 41

When male fruit flies find a bounty of food, they mark the territory with a pheromone called 9-tricosene. The pheromone entices females to lay their eggs nearby, presumably to give the offspring a full meal and a chance to survive, according to a team of researchers led by Christopher J. Potter of Johns Hopkins University (eLife 2015, DOI: 10.7554/elife.08688). The chemical mark also acts as a dinner-is-ready beacon to other Drosophila melanogaster that aggregate in response to the scent in search of the promised buffet. The team found that 9-tricosene activates a family of odor receptors known as Or7a. These receptors are also activated by several alcohols, aldehydes, and E2-hexenal, a volatile compound that wafts from damaged plants—another food source for the tiny insects—and that in turn also guides egg-laying behavior. The research suggests that a variety of chemically distinct signals activate Or7a receptors triggering a common behavioral response—laying eggs near a promising food source.

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Comments
Ed Fenlon (October 23, 2015 10:14 AM)
I believe the pheromone is the Z-isomer rather than the E-isomer shown in the figure.

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