|MAST, JOSHUA - Howard Hughes Medical Institute
|MORAES, CONSUELO - Pennsylvania State University
|LAVIS, LUKE - Howard Hughes Medical Institute
|STERN, DAVID - Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Submitted to: Nature
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/26/2014
Publication Date: 12/12/2014
Citation: Mast, J.D., Moraes, C., Alborn, H.T., Lavis, L.D., Stern, D.L. 2014. Evolved differences in larval social behavior mediated by novel pheromones. Nature. 3:e04205.
Interpretive Summary: Multiple pheromones and neural pathways that underlie adult social behavior have been well described and studied in the genetic model organism, Drosophila melanogaster. A scientist at USDA ARS CMAVE, Gainesville FL in collaboration with scientists at Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Pennsylvania State University discovered that larvae of this insect excrete aggregation pheromones. The scientist isolated and identified two compounds comprising the aggregation pheromone and a pair of sensory neurons that are required to detect these signals. The sister species D. simulans expressed indifference towards D. melanogaster exudates and larva exudates of this species contained only trace amounts of the pheromone components. However, the larvae were attracted to a synthetic D. melanogaster blend of these compounds; thus, there appear to be additional signals involved in interactions between these sister species. These findings that reveal unanticipated complexity in Drosophila larval social life and the relatively simple mechanisms through which social behavior can evolve, will help us to discover, understand and utilize similar interactions between insect species of agricultural importance.
Technical Abstract: Pheromones, chemical signals that convey social information, mediate many insect social behaviors in both adult and immature stages. Multiple pheromones and neural pathways that underlie adult social behavior have been described in the genetic model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, but there is no known role for pheromones in larval behavior of this insect. Here we report novel larval-derived pheromones that induce larval aggregation in Drosophila. We also identified a pair of chemosensory neurons that are required to detect these signals. These social cues have been lost in the sister species of D. melanogaster, D. simulans, suggesting that these larval behaviors and the production of the pheromones which underlie them, are evolving quickly. These findings reveal unanticipated complexity in Drosophila larval social life and the relatively simple mechanisms through which social behavior can evolve.