Illuminating the mysterious cultures of fruit flies

November 29, 2018

The lady fruit flies that inhabit your banana bowl may find green-colored mates with curly wings simply irresistible -- conforming to the "local dating culture" of generations of female flies before them, a new study finds. It reveals how female fruit flies get their cues for choosing a mate based on the partners they see other female fruit flies choose. The study's results suggest that culture, once thought to be exclusive to humans and a small, but growing collection of birds and mammals, might be far more widespread throughout all the branches of the family tree of life. The ability for local traditions to develop and persist has been described as a hallmark of culture. While it is theoretically suggested that the social transmission of cultural traditions can exist outside of the non-human animals in which it is known, including less-cognitively advanced species, there is little empirical evidence for this. In addition, the processes underlying cultural inheritance is not well understood. Here, Etienne Danchin and colleagues propose a mechanistic definition of animal culture -- namely, some inherited traits be socially learned and spread to others -- and apply it to the mating routines of Drosophila melanogaster. Through a series of experiments in which female fruit flies were allowed to observe other females mating with various partners, Danchin et al. show that fruit fly females express a strong tendency to rapidly learn mating preferences from others and to copy them when choosing their own mate. Furthermore, a model based on the study's observations confirmed that these types of social learning and conforming can produce and maintain local traditions for potentially thousands of generations, with considerable evolutionary implications, according to the authors.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Partners Articles from Brightsurf:

Post-traumatic stress experienced by partners following miscarriage
One in 12 partners experience post-traumatic stress after miscarriage, suggests a new study.

Romantic partners influence each other's goals
Over the long-term, what one partner in a two-person relationship wishes to avoid, so too does the other partner -- and what one wants to achieve, so does the other.

Women and men still choose partners like they used to
Men and women choose partners according to different criteria. These are the same almost all over the world and have remained unchanged in the last 30 years, according to a new survey of 14 000 people.

PTSD partners feel invisible, study finds
Recognition of the needs of wives and intimate partners in supporting the recovery of veterans and front-line emergency workers affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been highlighted in a new study led by Flinders University.

Microscopic partners could help plants survive stressful environments
Tiny, symbiotic fungi play an outsized role in helping plants survive stresses like drought and extreme temperatures, which could help feed a planet experiencing climate change, report scientists at Washington State University.

The influence of alcohol consumption among cohabitating partners
Research has linked a partner's or spouse's drinking with changes in alcohol-related behaviors, but few studies have considered only cohabiting relationships.

Depression and binge-drinking more common among military partners
New research from King's College London suggests that depression and binge-drinking are more common among the female partners of UK military personnel than among comparable women outside the military community.

Children and partners are key
Fewer children, distant relatives or friends, and an increasing plurality of family models: These factors impact on the availability of support and care in old age.

'Mindreading' neurons simulate decisions of social partners
Scientists have identified special types of brain cells that may allow us to simulate the decision-making processes of others, thereby reconstructing their state of mind and predicting their intentions.

Stowaway fungi hitch a ride with birds to be with their plant partners
For the first time, scientists have shown that fungal hitchhikers use birds to colonize new territories with their plant partners.

Read More: Partners News and Partners Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.