Sometimes individuals in our lab become curious about other organisms and begin studying them. For example, hundreds of thousands of wasp species kill a vast range of insect species, and insects have evolved defensive responses to them. We recently found a surprising response of Drosophila to certain wasps: the flies begin mating quickly. Surprisingly, the sight of wasps induces the dramatic regulation in the fly nervous system of a 41 amino-acid micro peptide, which is essential to the mating behavior.
Another example is Drosophila suzukii. Although most Drosophila species lay eggs in overripe fruit, D. suzukii lays eggs in ripe fruit and is thus a major agricultural pest. We recently found that the adaptation of D. suzukii to ripe fruits has been accompanied by changes in the anatomy, physiology, and transcriptome of its taste system.
On a recent trip to the Bronx Zoo we collected odors of lions, giraffes, and zebras. We have tested the responses they elicit from tsetse flies, but other uses are possible….
Dweck, H.K.M, Talross, G., Wang, W. and Carlson, J.R. (2021) Evolutionary shifts in taste coding in the fruit pest Drosophila suzukii, eLife 10:e64317.
Ebrahim, S., Talross, G. and Carlson, J.R. (2021) Sight of parasitoid wasps accelerates sexual behavior and upregulates a micropeptide gene in Drosophila, Nature Comm. 12, 2453