NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE, JACQUELINE S.R. CHIN
EDITOR'S CHOICE IN BIOCHEMISTRY
J.S.R. Chin et al., “Sex-specific triacylglycerides are widely conserved in Drosophila and mediate mating behavior,” eLife, doi:10.7554/eLife.01751, 2014.
Animals often relay sexual messages through pheromones, typically small, volatile organic molecules. In recent years, Joanne Yew at the National University of Singapore and others had spotted triacylglycerides (TAGs)—compounds usually found in fatty tissue—on the exterior of fruit flies, a pattern hinting that they might be pheromones.
In Yew’s latest study, her team found TAGs on a dozen desert-dwelling Drosophila species—including 13 different TAGs on two species alone—by using a mass spectrometer with a fine-point laser trained on the flies’ cuticle surface. “They’re secreted in just one region—the anogenital...