World-wide variation in Drosophila melanogaster sex pheromone: behavioural effects, genetic bases and potential evolutionary consequences

Genetica. 1996 Jan;97(1):73-80. doi: 10.1007/BF00132583.


In Drosophila melanogaster, male wing vibration, a key element of courtship behaviour, is most efficiently induced by a female-specific contact pheromone cis, cis 7,11 heptacosadiene (7,11 HD), which is the main mature female cuticular hydrocarbon in the CS laboratory strain. A study of 63 strains from around the world revealed that flies from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are unique in showing low levels 7,11 HD and high levels of the position isomer 5,9 HD. This difference maps to chromosome III, perhaps indicating a simple genetic control of the 7,11 HD:5,9 HD ratio. Females from strains with high levels of 7,11 HD showed higher levels of mating and mated more rapidly than females with low levels of 7,11 HD. The results are discussed in light of recent discoveries of genetic differences between D. melanogaster strains from Africa and those from elsewhere around the world.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Drosophila melanogaster / chemistry
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Male
  • Sex Attractants / analysis*
  • Sex Attractants / genetics
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Species Specificity


  • Sex Attractants