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1.  Transient and Permanent Experience with Fatty Acids Changes Drosophila melanogaster Preference and Fitness 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92352.
Food and host-preference relies on genetic adaptation and sensory experience. In vertebrates, experience with food-related cues during early development can change adult preference. This is also true in holometabolous insects, which undergo a drastic nervous system remodelling during their complete metamorphosis, but remains uncertain in Drosophila melanogaster. We have conditioned D. melanogaster with oleic (C18∶1) and stearic (C18∶0) acids, two common dietary fatty acids, respectively preferred by larvae and adult. Wild-type individuals exposed either during a transient period of development–from embryo to adult–or more permanently–during one to ten generation cycles–were affected by such conditioning. In particular, the oviposition preference of females exposed to each fatty acid during larval development was affected without cross-effect indicating the specificity of each substance. Permanent exposure to each fatty acid also drastically changed oviposition preference as well as major fitness traits (development duration, sex-ratio, fecundity, adult lethality). This suggests that D. melanogaster ability to adapt to new food sources is determined by its genetic and sensory plasticity both of which may explain the success of this generalist-diet species.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092352
PMCID: PMC3965419  PMID: 24667657
2.  Choice alters Drosophila oviposition site preference on menthol 
Biology Open  2013;3(1):22-28.
Summary
Food choice and preference relies on multiple sensory systems that are under the control of genes and sensory experience. Exposure to specific nutrients and nutrient-related molecules can change food preference in vertebrates and invertebrates. For example, larval exposure of several holometabolous insects to menthol can change their adult response to this molecule. However, studies involving Drosophila melanogaster exposure to menthol produced controversial results due maybe to methodological differences. Here, we compared the oviposition-site preference of wild-type D. melanogaster lines freely or forcibly exposed to menthol-rich food. After 12 generations, oviposition-site preference diverged between the two lines. Counterintuitively, menthol ‘forced’ lines showed a persistent aversion to menthol whereas ‘free choice’ lines exhibited a decreased aversion to menthol-rich food. This effect was specific to menthol since the ‘free choice’ lines showed unaltered responses to caffeine and sucrose. This suggests that the genetic factors underlying Drosophila oviposition site preference are more rapidly influenced when flies have a choice between alternative sources compared to flies permanently exposed to the same aversive substance.
doi:10.1242/bio.20136973
PMCID: PMC3892157  PMID: 24326184
Egg-laying behaviour; Aversive behaviour; Menthol; Caffeine; Sucrose
3.  Volatile Drosophila Cuticular Pheromones Are Affected by Social but Not Sexual Experience 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40396.
Recognition of conspecifics and mates is based on a variety of sensory cues that are specific to the species, sex and social status of each individual. The courtship and mating activity of Drosophila melanogaster flies is thought to depend on the olfactory perception of a male-specific volatile pheromone, cis-vaccenyl acetate (cVA), and the gustatory perception of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHs), some of which are sexually dimorphic. Using two complementary sampling methods (headspace Solid Phase Micro-Extraction [SPME] and solvent extraction) coupled with GC-MS analysis, we measured the dispersion of pheromonal CHs in the air and on the substrate around the fly. We also followed the variations in CHs that were induced by social and sexual interactions. We found that all CHs present on the fly body were deposited as a thin layer on the substrate, whereas only a few of these molecules were also detected in the air. Moreover, social experience during early adult development and in mature flies strongly affected male volatile CHs but not cVA, whereas sexual interaction only had a moderate influence on dispersed CHs. Our study suggests that, in addition to their role as contact cues, CHs can influence fly behavior at a distance and that volatile, deposited and body pheromonal CHs participate in a three-step recognition of the chemical identity and social status of insects.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040396
PMCID: PMC3394786  PMID: 22808151
4.  Incipient speciation in Drosophila melanogaster involves chemical signals 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:224.
The sensory and genetic bases of incipient speciation between strains of Drosophila melanogaster from Zimbabwe and those from elsewhere are unknown. We studied mating behaviour between eight strains – six from Zimbabwe, together with two cosmopolitan strains. The Zimbabwe strains showed significant sexual isolation when paired with cosmopolitan males, due to Zimbabwe females discriminating against these males. Our results show that flies' cuticular hydrocarbons (CHs) were involved in this sexual isolation, but that visual and acoustic signals were not. The mating frequency of Zimbabwe females was highly significantly negatively correlated with the male's relative amount of 7-tricosene (%7-T), while the mating of cosmopolitan females was positively correlated with %7-T. Variation in transcription levels of two hydrocarbon-determining genes, desat1 and desat2, did not correlate with the observed mating patterns. Our study represents a step forward in our understanding of the sensory processes involved in this classic case of incipient speciation.
doi:10.1038/srep00224
PMCID: PMC3261631  PMID: 22355738
5.  Fatty-Acid Preference Changes during Development in Drosophila melanogaster 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26899.
Fatty-acids (FAs) are required in the diet of many animals throughout their life. However, the mechanisms involved in the perception of and preferences for dietary saturated and unsaturated FAs (SFAs and UFAs, respectively) remain poorly explored, especially in insects. Using the model species Drosophila melanogaster, we measured the responses of wild-type larvae and adults to pure SFAs (14, 16, and 18 carbons) and UFAs (C18 with 1, 2, or 3 double-bonds). Individual and group behavioral tests revealed different preferences in larvae and adults. Larvae preferred UFAs whereas SFAs tended to induce both a strong aversion and a persistent aggregation behavior. Adults generally preferred SFAs, and laid more eggs and had a longer life span when ingesting these substances as compared to UFAs. Our data suggest that insects can discriminate long-chain dietary FAs. The developmental change in preference shown by this species might reflect functional variation in use of FAs or stage-specific nutritional requirements, and may be fundamental for insect use of these major dietary components.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026899
PMCID: PMC3203165  PMID: 22046401
6.  Drosophila Cuticular Hydrocarbons Revisited: Mating Status Alters Cuticular Profiles 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9607.
Most living organisms use pheromones for inter-individual communication. In Drosophila melanogaster flies, several pheromones perceived either by contact/at a short distance (cuticular hydrocarbons, CHs), or at a longer distance (cis-vaccenyl acetate, cVA), affect courtship and mating behaviours. However, it has not previously been possible to precisely identify all potential pheromonal compounds and simultaneously monitor their variation on a time scale. To overcome this limitation, we combined Solid Phase Micro-Extraction with gas-chromatography coupled with mass-spectrometry. This allowed us (i) to identify 59 cuticular compounds, including 17 new CHs; (ii) to precisely quantify the amount of each compound that could be detected by another fly, and (iii) to measure the variation of these substances as a function of aging and mating. Sex-specific variation appeared with age, while mating affected cuticular compounds in both sexes with three possible patterns: variation was (i) reciprocal in the two sexes, suggesting a passive mechanical transfer during mating, (ii) parallel in both sexes, such as for cVA which strikingly appeared during mating, or (iii) unilateral, presumably as a result of sexual interaction. We provide a complete reassessment of all Drosophila CHs and suggest that the chemical conversation between male and female flies is far more complex than is generally accepted. We conclude that focusing on individual compounds will not provide a satisfactory understanding of the evolution and function of chemical communication in Drosophila.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009607
PMCID: PMC2834761  PMID: 20231905
7.  An Inhibitory Sex Pheromone Tastes Bitter for Drosophila Males 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(8):e661.
Sexual behavior requires animals to distinguish between the sexes and to respond appropriately to each of them. In Drosophila melanogaster, as in many insects, cuticular hydrocarbons are thought to be involved in sex recognition and in mating behavior, but there is no direct neuronal evidence of their pheromonal effect. Using behavioral and electrophysiological measures of responses to natural and synthetic compounds, we show that Z-7-tricosene, a Drosophila male cuticular hydrocarbon, acts as a sex pheromone and inhibits male-male courtship. These data provide the first direct demonstration that an insect cuticular hydrocarbon is detected as a sex pheromone. Intriguingly, we show that a particular type of gustatory neurons of the labial palps respond both to Z-7-tricosene and to bitter stimuli. Cross-adaptation between Z-7-tricosene and bitter stimuli further indicates that these two very different substances are processed by the same neural pathways. Furthermore, the two substances induced similar behavioral responses both in courtship and feeding tests. We conclude that the inhibitory pheromone tastes bitter to the fly.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000661
PMCID: PMC1937024  PMID: 17710124

Results 1-7 (7)