Scorned Male Fruit Flies Turn to Booze, According to New Study
by Dr Georgianna Donadio
- Like plenty of males I know, male fruit flies who have been sexually rejected turn to booze, a new study shows. According to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, rejected male fruit flies consumed four times more alcohol than those who had recently mated.“This was just a wild experiment to do,” Galit Shohat-Ophir, the lead researcher, told, Science, after the findings were published. “We didn’t expect to see such dramatic results.”The scientists put 24 male fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) in one of two situations. Half the males were placed in vials in groups of four, each group with 20 female flies that were ready to mate, allowing the males to mate with multiple females. The other half of the males were put alone in vials, each with one female that had already mated, making her reject any courtship advances. After 4 days of repeated mating or rejection, the male flies were moved to new containers, with capillaries containing food mash—some with alcohol and others without—that they could eat.
Shohat-Ophir said that a chemical in the male fruit-fly brain called neuropeptide F likely caused them to drown their sorrows following rejection, but that more research is needed.
Nonetheless, the link between sexual rejection and alcohol is important, scientists say. “We are really hoping that this will encourage those working with mice and rats and humans to look at what happens to this neuropeptide in psychiatric conditions,” Ulrike Heberlein, one of the researchers told Blumberg news.