Fly mating at U of T

Last Thursday, a UTM research team led by Professor Joel Levine revealed that by genetically tweaking pheromones emitted by fruit flies, they were able to produce bugs that were irresistible to each other.

The study, published in the science journal Nature, looked at how fruit flies recognized sex and species. By eliminating certain pheromones, the researchers were able to breed flies that did not have the capacity to distinguish and classify each other, thus rendering them sexually irresistible to their species.

Lacking these chemical signals eliminated barriers to mating, Professor Levine said, referring to the fact that male flies attempted to mate with pheromone-free males, even though sometimes they were of a different species altogether, Professor Levine admitted that the findings are of little consequence to human attraction. We may rely more on the visual system and we may have a more complex way of assessing other individuals, classifying them and determining how were going to relate to them than a fly does.

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