Another thing fruit flies and humans have in common

I’m kind of loving this research published in the latest issue of Science, titled “Sexual Deprivation Increases Ethanol Intake in Drosophila.” Science NOW has a good general summary of the paper:

Offer a male fruit fly a choice between food soaked in alcohol and its nonalcoholic equivalent, and his decision will depend on whether he’s mated recently or been rejected by a female. Flies that have been given the cold shoulder are more likely to go for the booze, researchers have found. It’s the first discovery, in fruit flies, of a social interaction that influences future behavior.

Read the rest here.


  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Now I have a mental picture of a fruit fly whining drunkenly at a bartender: “Da women don’ unnerstand me. Dey don’ like me an’ ignore me for dem other guys wid da flashy wings. I can’t get laid.”

  2. carpenterman says

    I understand completely. When my wife and I separated, the first thing i did was get drunk.
    For about two years.
    But that’s another story and will be told another time.

  3. Brian says

    So a fruit fly walks into a bar. The bartender says, “What can I get you?” The fruit fly says, “Nothing for me. I just escaped from a biology lab.” The bartender nods knowingly and says, “I get it. Had plenty of action there, did you?” The fruit fly shakes his head. “No, none at all, actually. But all the food there was soaked in booze!”

    Yeah, I know. Needs work.

  4. annie says

    I have tons of fruit flies in my yard right now (rotting citrus I just can’t reach), but what always finds its way into my wine glass while eating al fresco are the pine beetles. Honestly, I think the pine beetles have a bigger alcohol problem than fruit flies (but then again, maybe the fruit flies in my yard are just seeing more action than the pine beetles).

  5. DSimon says

    It’s definitely causation, all variables were identical except for whether the fruit flies being tested were assigned to the getting-down-all-night-long group or not.

  6. says

    Fruit fly larva that are parasitized by Hymenoptera also go for the boozier food source. In this cause the Hymenoptera larva can handle the alcohol which causes the parasites organs to come flying out its rectum. Kind of like Scklitz.
    FSM and coffee

  7. IslandBrewer says

    I think this is a perfect opportunity to market a series of books and seminars on how to pick up female Drosophila! Techniques like negging: “Hey, you have a fungal infection! Because you are now insecure, you will lower your mating standards and allow me to copulate!”

  8. cag says

    Both fruit flies and humans are born atheist. The fruit fly has the good sense of remaining so, humans not so much.

  9. Azkyroth says

    Probably not. Except for whatever hyper-rarified abstract definition of “free will” it is the philosophy-types will neither explain nor shut up about.

  10. says

    Jennifer – Thanks for speaking at CFI Indiana. We enjoyed it. Here is a poem about the little fly I bred in college genetics lab in 1956.

    Drosophila – Ode to a Fruit Fly

    Drosophila Melagaster, you sexy little fly.
    Your universe is in a bottle; you never saw the sky.
    You never had the chance to fly, free as God made you.
    Your firmament was made of glass, all you ever knew.

    A slice of apple or an orange would have been your wish.
    A ripe banana is your heaven in a little dish.
    Instead you existed under glass just for me to see,
    to reproduce and be bred by a human deity.

    I watched you copulate, lay eggs to my delight;
    I watched as your larva pupated in plain sight;
    I watched your offspring hatch and spread their tiny wings;
    I etherized your whole brood and examined the little things.

    With a little brush, I selected a few mutations,
    and then bred them once again to make some new creations.
    Playing God sure felt good for some unholy reason.
    Creating little mutants was supernatural treason.

    What I did in college lab with deliberate resolution
    happens all the time in nature, its called evolution.
    But there are those of little wit that still cannot conceive
    that what we did together should really be believed.

    I finished my genetics course and passed the final tests.
    I never could have done it without my fruit fly pests.
    Playing God is bad enough; some think it a holy crime.
    But, it was fun proving evolution by my design.

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