Allocrine modulation of feeding behavior by the Sex Peptide of Drosophila

Curr Biol. 2006 Apr 4;16(7):692-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2006.02.064.


Mating elicits a dramatic reprogramming of female behavior in numerous insect species. In Drosophila, this postmating response (PMR) comprises increased egg-laying rate and reduced sexual receptivity and is controlled by the products of the male accessory glands, a family of approximately 80 small peptides transferred in the male seminal fluid . Here, we show that copulation strongly stimulates female food intake. Remarkably, this change is abolished if the males lack a single, small seminal protein, the Sex Peptide (SP). Ectopic expression of SP in virgin females mimics the effect of mating on feeding behavior, demonstrating that SP is the main agent controlling this behavioral paradigm. Our observations identify enhanced feeding behavior as a novel component of the Drosophila PMR and suggest that SP represents a molecular link between energy acquisition and reproductive investment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Copulation / physiology
  • Drosophila / anatomy & histology
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Insect Hormones / metabolism
  • Insect Hormones / physiology*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Longevity
  • Male
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Peptides / physiology*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Insect Hormones
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mst57Dc protein, Drosophila
  • Peptides