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A Genetic Analysis of Male-Predominant Pheromones in Drosophila Melanogaster

  • D. Scott
  • R. C. Richmond
Publication Date
Jul 01, 1988


Chemical signals from males play an important role in stimulating Drosophila melanogaster females to mate, and male-predominant pheromones may influence a female's choice of mates. Male-predominant pheromones also inhibit courtship, thereby functioning as antiaphrodisiacs. Interstrain variation in the ratio of two male-predominant pheromones (7-tricosene and 7-pentacosene) has been reported, but the genetic basis for this potentially important variation has not been examined. In a series of crosses between strains that differ radically in the amounts of 7-tricosene and 7-pentacosene, we have identified both X-linked and autosomal contributions to interstrain variation in the amounts of these compounds. The X-linked loci act as enhancers for production of the compound predominant in the strain from which the X chromosome originated. Autosomal factors for each of the two compounds appear to segregate as high vs. low, with incomplete dominance of high 7-tricosene over low, and low 7-pentacosene over high. A significant negative correlation between the quantities of 7-pentacosene and 7-tricosene in the F(2) and backcross progeny, but not in the F(1)s or parentals, indicates linkage between autosomal loci regulating the expression of each compound. However, the phenotypic distributions of the backcross progeny indicate that additional unlinked loci are also directly involved in the production of these two hydrocarbons.

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