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Methods. 2012 Jan;56(1):87-94. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2011.09.007. Epub 2011 Sep 16.

Courtship song analysis of Drosophila muscle mutants.

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Department of Biology, The University of Vermont, USA.


As part of the mating ritual, males of Drosophila species produce species-specific courtship songs through wing vibrations generated by the thoracic musculature. While previous studies have shown that indirect flight muscles (IFM) are neurally activated during courtship song production, the precise role of these muscles in song production has not been investigated. Fortunately, IFM mutants abound in Drosophila melanogaster and studies spanning several decades have shed light on the role of muscle proteins in IFM-powered flight. Analysis of courtship songs in these mutants offers the opportunity to uncover the role of the IFM in a behavior distinct than flight and subject to different evolutionary selection regimes. Here, we describe protocols for the recording and analysis of courtship behavior and mating song of D. melanogaster muscle transgenic and mutant strains. To record faint acoustic signal of courtship songs, an insulated mating compartment was used inside a recording device (INSECTAVOX) equipped with a modified electret microphone, a low-noise power supply, and noise filters. Songs recorded in the INSECTAVOX are digitized using Goldwave, whose several features enable extraction of critical song parameters, including carrier frequencies for pulse song and sine song. We demonstrate the utility of this approach by showing that deletion of the N-terminal region of the myosin regulatory light chain, a mutation known to decrease wing beat frequency and flight power, affects courtship song parameters.

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