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1.  Sequential Learning of Pheromonal Cues Modulates Memory Consolidation in Trainer-Specific Associative Courtship Conditioning 
Current biology : CB  2005;15(3):194-206.
Summary
Background
Associative memory formation requires that animals choose predictors for experiences they need to remember. When an artificial odor is paired with an aversive experience, that odor becomes the predictor. In more natural settings, however, animals can have multiple salient experiences that need to be remembered and prioritized. The mechanisms by which animals deal with multiple experiences are incompletely understood.
Results
Here we show that Drosophila males can be trained to discriminate between different types of female pheromones; they suppress courtship specifically to the type of female that was associated with unsuccessful courtship. Such “trainer-specific” learning is mediated by hydrocarbon olfactory cues and modifies the male’s processing of those cues. Animals that are unable to use olfactory cues can still learn by using other sensory modalities, but memory in this case is not specific to the trainer female’s maturation state. Concurrent and serial presentation of different pheromones demonstrates that the ability to consolidate memory of pheromonal cues can be modified by the temporal order in which they appear.
Conclusion
Suppression of memory by new learning demonstrates that the dynamics of memory consolidation are subject to plasticity in Drosophila. This type of metaplasticity is essential for navigation of experience-rich natural environments.
doi:10.1016/j.cub.2005.01.035
PMCID: PMC2805828  PMID: 15694302
2.  Generalization of courtship learning in Drosophila is mediated by cis-vaccenyl acetate 
Current biology : CB  2007;17(7):599-605.
Summary
Reproductive behavior in Drosophila has both stereotyped and plastic components that are driven by age- and sex-specific chemical cues. Males who unsuccessfully court virgin females subsequently avoid females that are of the same age as the trainer. In contrast, males trained with mature mated females associate volatile appetitive and aversive pheromonal cues and learn to suppress courtship of all females. Here we show that the volatile aversive pheromone that leads to generalized learning with mated females is (Z)-11-octadecenyl acetate (cis-vaccenyl acetate, cVA). cVA is a major component of the male cuticular hydrocarbon profile, but it is not found on virgin females. During copulation, cVA is transferred to the female in ejaculate along with sperm and peptides that decrease her sexual receptivity. When males sense cVA (either synthetic or from mated female or male extracts) in the context of female pheromone, they develop a generalized suppression of courtship. The effects of cVA on initial courtship of virgin females can be blocked by expression of tetanus toxin in Or65a, but not Or67d neurons, demonstrating that the aversive effects of this pheromone are mediated by a specific class of olfactory neuron. These findings suggest that transfer of cVA to females during mating may be part of the male’s strategy to suppress reproduction by competing males.
doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.01.053
PMCID: PMC1913718  PMID: 17363250
Learning and memory; olfaction; Drosophila; pheromones; cis-vaccenyl acetate
3.  The scent of age. 
In many species, older males are often preferred mates because they carry 'good' genes that account for their viability. How females discern a male's age is a matter of question. However, for animals that rely heavily on chemical communication there is some indication that an animal's age can be determined by its scent. To investigate whether there are changes in body odours with age, and if so their composition, mice were trained in a Y-maze to discriminate urine odours of donor mice of different ages: Adult (3-10 months old) and Aged (more than 17 months old). Trained mice could discriminate between these two age groups by odour alone. To determine the chemical basis for these discriminations, studies were performed using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. These analyses demonstrated differences in the ratio of urinary volatiles with age. The most prominent differences involved significantly greater amounts of 2-phenylacetamide and significantly lower amounts of methylbutyric acids in Aged animals relative to Adult animals. Fractionating and manipulating the levels of these compounds in the urine demonstrated that the mice can distinguish age based on variation in amounts of these specific compounds in the combined urine.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2002.2308
PMCID: PMC1691329  PMID: 12803907

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