Molecular analysis of flies selected for aggressive behavior

Nat Genet. 2006 Sep;38(9):1023-31. doi: 10.1038/ng1864. Epub 2006 Aug 13.


Aggressive behavior is pervasive throughout the animal kingdom, and yet very little is known about its molecular underpinnings. To address this problem, we have developed a population-based selection procedure to increase aggression in Drosophila melanogaster. We measured changes in aggressive behavior in the selected subpopulations with a new two-male arena assay. In only ten generations of selection, the aggressive lines became markedly more aggressive than the neutral lines. After 21 generations, the fighting index increased more than 30-fold. Using microarray analysis, we identified genes with differing expression levels in the aggressive and neutral lines as candidates for this strong behavioral selection response. We tested a small set of these genes through mutant analysis and found that one significantly increased fighting frequency. These results suggest that selection for increases in aggression can be used to molecularly dissect this behavior.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression*
  • Agonistic Behavior
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Male
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • RNA / genetics
  • Selection, Genetic*


  • RNA

Associated data

  • GEO/GSM120838
  • GEO/GSM120858
  • GEO/GSM120859
  • GEO/GSM120860
  • GEO/GSM120861
  • GEO/GSM120862
  • GEO/GSM120863
  • GEO/GSM120864
  • GEO/GSM120865
  • GEO/GSM120866
  • GEO/GSM120867
  • GEO/GSM120868