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Elife. 2015 May 13;4. doi: 10.7554/eLife.07423.

Social communication of predator-induced changes in Drosophila behavior and germ line physiology.

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Department of Genetics, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, United States.
Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Department of Zoology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.


Behavioral adaptation to environmental threats and subsequent social transmission of adaptive behavior has evolutionary implications. In Drosophila, exposure to parasitoid wasps leads to a sharp decline in oviposition. We show that exposure to predator elicits both an acute and learned oviposition depression, mediated through the visual system. However, long-term persistence of oviposition depression after predator removal requires neuronal signaling functions, a functional mushroom body, and neurally driven apoptosis of oocytes through effector caspases. Strikingly, wasp-exposed flies (teachers) can transmit egg-retention behavior and trigger ovarian apoptosis in naive, unexposed flies (students). Acquisition and behavioral execution of this socially learned behavior by naive flies requires all of the factors needed for primary learning. The ability to teach does not require ovarian apoptosis. This work provides new insight into genetic and physiological mechanisms that underlie an ecologically relevant form of learning and mechanisms for its social transmission.


D. melanogaster; apoptosis; cell biology; communication; learning; memory; neuroscience; parasitoid wasp; social learning

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