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Behav Genet. 2008 Jul;38(4):424-36. doi: 10.1007/s10519-008-9204-5. Epub 2008 Mar 28.

Natural genetic variation in complex mating behaviors of male Drosophila melanogaster.

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Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


Mating behavior, including courtship and copulation, is a main component of male fitness, especially in species with no parental care. Variation in this behavior can thus be a target for mate choice and sexual selection, and can lead to evolution. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has well-documented complex male courtship comprised of a sequence behaviors, and is an ideal model for behavior-genetic analysis. In order to evaluate genetic differences in the temporal pattern of mating behavior, we developed a high-throughput method that allows us to document the progression of male courtship and copulation using an ordinal scale (male mating progression scale, MMP). Using this method, we document natural genetic variation in the temporal pattern of behavior that was not detected using other metrics. This method was robust enough to detect genetic variation in this trait for males placed with both virgin and mated female targets.

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