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Naturwissenschaften. 2008 Mar;95(3):253-6. Epub 2007 Sep 26.

Drosophila melanogaster virgins are more likely to mate with strangers than familiar flies.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada.


Recent evidence shows that females of many species can discriminate against males and/or male phenotypes they have mated with previously. However, these studies have not tested whether actual mating is necessary to induce the avoidance behaviour. A preference for strangers may have evolved because it avoids multiple matings with similar genotypes. Alternatively, there may be selection against mating with familiar individuals directly. By choosing its first mate among unfamiliar individuals (which are less likely close relatives than are those encountered early in life), a virgin might disentangle some of the potential benefits of avoiding genetic incompatibility and inbreeding in the offspring from the costs of remating. In this study, we test whether Drosophila melanogaster flies bias their mate choice towards strangers according to previous, non-copulatory, experience. Based on 173 trials over 12 weeks, virgin females presented with two virgin males were 59% more likely to mate with a novel male than the one which she had been housed with for 8 h the day before. Hence we present the first report showing that a dipteran can distinguish between previously encountered and not previously encountered conspecifics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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