Age, but not experience, affects courtship gene expression in male Drosophila melanogaster.
Ruedi EA, Hughes KA
PLoS One (2009) 4: e6150.
Category: aging, sex ¤ Added: Jul 16, 2009 ¤ Rating: ◊◊
Mutation screens in model organisms have helped identify the foundation of many fundamental organismal phenotypes. An emerging question in evolutionary and behavioral biology is the extent to which these "developmental" genes contribute to the subtle individual variation that characterizes natural populations. A related question is whether individual differences arise from static differences in gene expression that arose during previous life stages, or whether they are due to dynamic regulation of expression during the life stage under investigation. Here, we address these questions using genes that have been discovered to control the development of normal courtship behavior in male Drosophila melanogaster. We examined whether these genes have static or dynamic expression in the heads of adult male flies of different ages and with different levels of social experience. We found that 16 genes of the 25 genes examined were statically expressed, and 9 genes were dynamically expressed with changes related to adult age. No genes exhibited rapid dynamic expression changes due to social experience or age*experience interaction. We therefore conclude that a majority of fly "courtship" genes are statically expressed, while a minority are regulated in adults with respect to age, but not with respect to relevant social experience. These results are consistent with those from a recent microarray analysis that found none of the canonical courtship genes changed expression in male flies after brief exposure to females.