Alcohol potentiates a pheromone signal in flies

  1. Annie Park  Is a corresponding author
  2. Tracy Tran
  3. Elizabeth A Scheuermann
  4. Dean P Smith
  5. Nigel S Atkinson  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  2. University of Texas at Austin, United States
  3. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, United States

Abstract

For decades, numerous researchers have documented the presence of the fruit fly or Drosophila melanogaster on alcohol-containing food sources. Although fruit flies are a common laboratory model organism of choice, there is relatively little understood about the ethological relationship between flies and ethanol. In this study, we find that when male flies inhabit ethanol-containing food substrates they become more aggressive. We identify a possible mechanism for this behavior. The odor of ethanol potentiates the activity of sensory neurons in response to an aggression-promoting pheromone. Finally, we observed that the odor of ethanol also promotes attraction to a food-related citrus odor. Understanding how flies interact with the complex natural environment they inhabit can provide valuable insight into how different natural stimuli are integrated to promote fundamental behaviors.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Annie Park

    Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    annie.park@dpag.ox.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-5618-2286
  2. Tracy Tran

    Institute for Neuroscience, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Elizabeth A Scheuermann

    Neuroscience, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Dean P Smith

    Pharmacology and Neuroscience, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-4271-0436
  5. Nigel S Atkinson

    Department of Neuroscience and Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, United States
    For correspondence
    nigela@utexas.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2R01AA01803706A1)

  • Nigel S Atkinson

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (F31AA027160)

  • Annie Park

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (T32AA07471)

  • Annie Park

National Institutes of Health (R01DC015230)

  • Dean P Smith

National Institutes of Health (5T32GM008203)

  • Elizabeth A Scheuermann

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Michael B Eisen, University of California, Berkeley, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: June 10, 2020
  2. Accepted: November 1, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: November 3, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: November 17, 2020 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2020, Park et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Annie Park
  2. Tracy Tran
  3. Elizabeth A Scheuermann
  4. Dean P Smith
  5. Nigel S Atkinson
(2020)
Alcohol potentiates a pheromone signal in flies
eLife 9:e59853.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.59853

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