Aggregation pheromones have a non-linear effect on oviposition behavior in Drosophila melanogaster

Thomas A Verschut, Renny Ng, Nicolas P Doubovetzky, Guillaume Le Calvez, Jan L Sneep, Adriaan J Minnaard, Chih-Ying Su, Mikael A Carlsson, Bregje Wertheim, Jean-Christophe Billeter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Female fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) oviposit at communal sites where the larvae may cooperate or compete for resources depending on group size. This offers a model system to determine how females assess quantitative social information. We show that the concentration of pheromones found on a substrate increases linearly with the number of adult flies that have visited that site. Females prefer oviposition sites with pheromone concentrations corresponding to an intermediate number of previous visitors, whereas sites with low or high concentrations are unattractive. This dose-dependent decision is based on a blend of 11-cis-Vaccenyl Acetate (cVA) indicating the number of previous visitors and heptanal (a novel pheromone deriving from the oxidation of 7-Tricosene), which acts as a dose-independent co-factor. This response is mediated by detection of cVA by odorant receptor neurons Or67d and Or65a, and at least five different odorant receptor neurons for heptanal. Our results identify a mechanism allowing individuals to transform a linear increase of pheromones into a non-linear behavioral response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1544
Number of pages15
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20-Mar-2023

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