Song production in auditory mutants of Drosophila: the role of sensory feedback

J Comp Physiol A. 2001 Jun;187(5):341-8. doi: 10.1007/s003590100206.


To test the role of sensory feedback in song production. we analyzed the courtship songs of Drosophila males expressing auditory mutations. We compared the courtship songs of atonal (ato), beethoven (btv) and touch-insensitive-larva-B (tilB) to wild-type songs. These mutations have in common the fact that the chordotonal organs are disrupted. Since chordotonal organs subserve both hearing (in the antenna) and proprioception (from the wing), these two potential routes for sensory feedback are defective in the mutant flies. We measured six song characters: pulse number within a train, inter-pulse interval, pulse duration, sine burst duration, the carrier frequency of the sine song and the relative amplitude of the sine song. Using multivariate analysis, we found significant differences between mutant and normal songs. In addition many mutant flies exhibit an unusual wing position during singing. The results indicate that sensory feedback plays an important role in shaping the courtship song of Drosophila.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Communication*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Biological Evolution
  • Courtship
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • ato protein, Drosophila