Sunday, February 3, 2013
Fruits of Passion.
The fruit fly Drosophila melanogasters has a passion that would put many of mankind to shame. Their favorite singles bar is atop a piece of rotting fruit – their own dance club. Male fruit flies call out to the ladies milling nearby. Their attention seeking shouts – Hey! are created with their wings, a purring pulse song. How you doing?- a humming sine song, meanwhile the females send out their own “come – hither” cues in the form of a chemical signal, or a perfume – like pheromone, to the courting males, announcing their interest in sexual overtures. Fruit fly courtship and hookups depend in the ability of potential couples to “do a little dance, make a little love.” Just as KC and sunshine band crooned in the 70’s “Get Down Tonight”. When a female slows her pace, the male moves in closer and in a more intimate mood seems to say “how u doing”. If she is receptive he dances closer tapping her butt with his front leg, sniffing it with his antennae and tasting it with his proboscis and forelegs, evaluating her suitability as the object of his amorous intentions. If all goes well a one night stand ensues. Just as in our life miscommunications can create a more difficult time in winning a mate and may result in a cold shoulder. The female fly encourages advances but the male fly must be able to read the signals at the right time. From the perspective of the female, it’s like trying to have a one on one conversation with a suitor who is trying to pick up every available date in the room. In a kind of strange homage to Cyrano be Bergerac, the male fruit fly that uses his nose or sense of smell as he speaks sweet nothings is best able to woo the female. Remember what you say is an important as your moves, even across 500 million years of evolution; the drive to get the girl keeps flies and humans singing the same tune. So keep your eyes and fly open while conducting the fandango. – Biological and scientific inputs (from the science journal of Nathan Donelson