Report By: Nina Rai
San Francisco, California
18 March, 2012
Incredible! Male fruit flies hit the bottle to drown their sorrows when rejected by their female counterparts.
A remarkable new study released by a U.S. university indicates that like some human males, male fruit flies that have been sexually rejected by female turn to alcohol.
The jilted male fruit flies consumed four times more alcohol than those who had recently mated, according to researchers at the Herberstein Lab in the University of California, San Francisco.
The chief researcher at the University, Galit Shohat-Ophir told Science (where the findings were published) that they were just carrying out this ‘wild experiment," and didn’t really expect to see such incredible results.
The U.C. researchers discovered that a 'switch' in the insect’s brains made the insects to turn to alcohol. Researchers will be looing to see if there are correlations with other species, including humans.
According to the Report: Twenty four male fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) were put in two sets of situation by the researchers. Half the males were put in vials in groups of four.
Each group contained 20 female flies that were ready to mate. This gave ample opportunity for the males to mate with numerous females.
The other half of the males were put solo in vials, each with one female that had already mated. This made her rebuff any courtship moves of the male fruit fly.
After 4 days of repeated mating or rejection, the male flies were transferred to new containers.
The male flies were placed by themselves in the new container and offered two straws, one containing food mash and the other food supplemented with 15% alcohol.
Result: The sexually rejected male fruit flies binged on the alcohol, unlike those male flies that had been sexually satiated.
The University of California team discovered a tiny molecule in the male fly's brain called neuropeptide F which altered when they were denied sex and this led them to drink more.
According to Shohat-Ophir this tiny chemical most likely resulted in the male fruit flies to drown their sorrows following rejection from the females.
However, he opined that more research is needed. Even so, the link between sexual rejection and alcohol is crucial and quite clear here.
Meanwhile, Ulrike Heberlein, one of the researchers told Bloomberg News "We are really hoping that this will encourage those working with mice and rats and humans to look at what happens to this neuropeptide in psychiatric conditions."
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