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Nature. 2010 Jan 14;463(7278):227-31. doi: 10.1038/nature08678. Epub 2009 Dec 6.

Identification of an aggression-promoting pheromone and its receptor neurons in Drosophila.

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  • 1Division of Biology 216-76, California Institute of Technology, 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, California 91125, USA. lmwang@caltech.edu

Abstract

Aggression is regulated by pheromones in many animal species. However, in no system have aggression pheromones, their cognate receptors and corresponding sensory neurons been identified. Here we show that 11-cis-vaccenyl acetate (cVA), a male-specific volatile pheromone, robustly promotes male-male aggression in the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster. The aggression-promoting effect of synthetic cVA requires olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) expressing the receptor Or67d, as well as the receptor itself. Activation of Or67d-expressing OSNs, either by genetic manipulation of their excitability or by exposure to male pheromones in the absence of other classes of OSNs, is sufficient to promote aggression. High densities of male flies can promote aggression by the release of volatile cVA. In turn, cVA-promoted aggression can promote male fly dispersal from a food resource, in a manner dependent on Or67d-expressing OSNs. These data indicate that cVA may mediate negative-feedback control of male population density, through its effect on aggression. Identification of a pheromone-OSN pair controlling aggression in a genetic organism opens the way to unravelling the neurobiology of this evolutionarily conserved behaviour.

PMID:
19966787
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2999963
Free PMC Article
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