The effect of ecdysteroid signaling on Drosophila female precopulatory behavior was investigated using two types of mutants with either globally reduced ecdysteroid availability or reduced expression of ecdysone receptors in fruitless neurons, known to control sexual behavior. While being courted by males, mutant females performed significantly less full ovipositor extrusion behavior to reject male copulation attempts. Ecdysteroid depleted females (ecdysoneless(1)) performed male-like courtship behaviors, including unilateral wing extension and song production with patterns very similar to male courtship song. These results support the hypothesis that ecdysteroids modulate female sexual behavior, perhaps acting as a regulator of sexual motivation, and as a component affecting the performance of sex specific behavior patterns.
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