Gut bugs affect mating

Differences in diet alter the composition of microbiota in Drosophila, which appears to in turn influence mate preferences -- and drive speciation

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst was managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Drosophila seem to prefer to mate with other Drosophila raised on the same diet as a result of the bacteria that live in their guts, according to a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Image: Wikimedia commons,
Muhammad Mahdi Karim
These apparent mate preferences, which arose after just one generation, suggest that an organism's microbiota can facilitate rapid evolution and speciation."It's an interesting paper," said linkurl:Patty Gowaty; of the University of California, Los Angeles, who did not participate in the study. "The thought that these gut bacteria could be associated with the reproductive outcomes for individuals is fascinating.""There's a lot of emerging research these days about the physiological effects of microbiota, and changes in microbiota in response to environmental conditions," added evolutionary geneticist linkurl:Paul Hohenlohe; of Oregon State University, who was also not involved in the research. "This study ties that into...
Drosophila melanogasterPNASDrosophilaLactobacillus plantarumL. plantarumL. plantarumThe ScientistG. Sharon, et al., "Commensal bacteria play a role in mating preference of Drosophila melanogaster," PNAS,, 2010.

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