Pre-imaginal conditioning alters adult sex pheromone response in Drosophila

Claude Everaerts, Laurie Cazalé-debat, Alexis Louis, Emilie Pereira, Jean-pierre Farine, Matthew Cobb, Jean-françois Ferveur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pheromones are chemical signals that induce innate responses in individuals of the same species that may vary with physiological and developmental state. In Drosophila melanogaster, the most intensively studied pheromone is 11-cis-vaccenyl acetate (cVA), which is synthezised in the male ejaculatory bulb and is transferred to the female during copulation. Among other effects, cVA inhibits male courtship of mated females. We found that male courtship inhibition depends on the amount of cVA and this effect is reduced in male flies derived from eggs covered with low to zero levels of cVA. This effect is not observed if the eggs are washed, or if the eggs are laid several days after copulation. This suggests that courtship suppression involves a form of pre-imaginal conditioning, which we show occurs during the early larval stage. The conditioning effect could not be rescued by synthetic cVA, indicating that it largely depends on conditioning by cVA and other maternally-transmitted factor(s). These experiments suggest that one of the primary behavioral effects of cVA is more plastic and less stereotypical than had hitherto been realised.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e5585
Early online date27 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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