13 Aug 2020

Sex, Flies and Videotape

CR researchers discover key behaviour that triggers the transition from courtship to mating in fruit flies.

Sex, Flies and Videotape

On a hot summer day, in a darkened chamber, a video camera follows a couple as it engages in nature’s oldest game – courtship. The male sings and chases after the female when suddenly a long tubular organ emerges from her rear end. The male recoils at first, but then returns to investigate. Is this a sign that the female is interested in moving on to the next phase, or should he try his luck elsewhere?

For many years, fruit fly investigators have been engaged in a passionate debate over the answer to this question. Various reports implicated the sudden emergence of this organ, called ovipositor, in both sexual rejection and acceptance. Now, researchers at the Innate Behaviour Lab, discovered that the ovipositor plays a crucial role in the transition from courtship to copulation. Their results were published in the scientific journal Current Biology.

Read the full story here.