ATHENS, Ga. -- In the game of dating, the word "chemistry" has nothing to do with the periodic table of the elements. Nothing's worse than finding out there's no "chemistry" with your date. Something just doesn't feel right, and later, a man or a woman will shrug and say, "There was just no chemistry between us."
They may be more right than they know. A new study by geneticists at the University of Georgia shows that when female fruit flies are given a choice between mates, their offspring live longer as adults than females who have only a single mate from which to choose. The research is bringing new insights into both female choice and male competition.
"We know there are fitness consequences to sexual selection, but past studies have largely focuses on juvenile survival," said Dr. Daniel Promislow. "Our results focus on adults, and we showed that the process of sexual selection can lead to a genetically related increase in the components of adult fitness."
The research, which was partially supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging, was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Drosophila melanogaster, a variety of fruit fly, is ideal for studying the process of sexual selection. Instead of going to singles bars or athletic clubs, the pin-head-size flies will readily mate anywhere, even in test tubes. Much of what scientists know of sexual selection models has come from studying these tiny creatures. Promislow's idea with the current research was to test the so-called "good genes" model, which proposes that female preference for certain male traits evolves because that male trait is an indicator of genetic quality.
The study presented some thorny problems. First, many, if not most,
animal signals may fall outside the range of unassisted human perception.
Second, very little is known about adult fitness components and how females
select mates to pass
Contact: Phil Williams
University of Georgia