Individual, but not population asymmetries, are modulated by social environment and genotype in Drosophila melanogaster

Sci Rep. 2020 Mar 11;10(1):4480. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-61410-7.


Theory predicts that social interactions can induce an alignment of behavioral asymmetries between individuals (i.e., population-level lateralization), but evidence for this effect is mixed. To understand how interaction with other individuals affects behavioral asymmetries, we systematically manipulated the social environment of Drosophila melanogaster, testing individual flies and dyads (female-male, female-female and male-male pairs). In these social contexts we measured individual and population asymmetries in individual behaviors (circling asymmetry, wing use) and dyadic behaviors (relative position and orientation between two flies) in five different genotypes. We reasoned that if coordination between individuals drives alignment of behavioral asymmetries, greater alignment at the population-level should be observed in social contexts compared to solitary individuals. We observed that the presence of other individuals influenced the behavior and position of flies but had unexpected effects on individual and population asymmetries: individual-level asymmetries were strong and modulated by the social context but population-level asymmetries were mild or absent. Moreover, the strength of individual-level asymmetries differed between strains, but this was not the case for population-level asymmetries. These findings suggest that the degree of social interaction found in Drosophila is insufficient to drive population-level behavioral asymmetries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genotype*
  • Phenotype
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Environment*