Wednesday, January 09, 2008

love is a battlefield

... and even chemical warfare seems to be quite common.

What I've learned from the current edition of Nature is that Drosophila males have a peptide in their semen, known as the sex peptide, which drastically changes the behaviour of copulated females, such that they reject any further offers they may receive.

Researchers have now found a receptor for this peptide, which is not only of interest for the fans of Dr Tatiana, but also in a more general sense as a model for a very clear connection between a chemical switch and a change of behaviour.

The sex peptide seems to be widespread among insects, so there is the chance that an artificial mimic could be used to control insect populations. Also, while it hasn't been identified in mammals yet, it is quite possible that similar mechanisms exist even in our own species and remain to be discovered.

PS: Evidence that flies and people aren't that different:
Drunken flies get hypersexual
Chronic boozing sends male flies chasing after any and every potential mate.

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