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Misexpression of the white (w) gene triggers male-male courtship in Drosophila.

Publication Date
  • Research Article
  • Ecology
  • Geography


We report here that the general ectopic expression of a tryptophan/guanine transmembrane transporter gene, white (w), induces male-male courtship in Drosophila. Activation of a hsp-70/miniwhite (mini-w) transgene in mature males results in a marked change in their sexual behavior such that they begin to vigorously court other mature males. In transformant populations containing equal numbers of both sexes, most males participate, thus forming male-male courtship chains, circles, and lariats. Mutations that ablate the w transgene function also abolish this inducible behavior. Female sexual behavior does not appear to be altered by ectopic w expression. By contrast, when exposed to an active homosexual courtship environment, non-transformant males alter their behavior and actively participate in the male-male chaining. These findings demonstrate that, in Drosophila, both genetic and environmental factors play a role in male sexual behavior.

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