Length of sex act in flies dictated by genetics

nd, for instance, that constant exposure to light can "switch off" the biological clock in the male gypsy moth and cause them to become sterile.

However, when it comes to mating behavior in fruit flies, light was not an issue. There was no change in the response in flies exposed to constant light. This demonstrates that "period" and "timeless" regulate mating behavior in a novel way unrelated to the clock. These genes control not only when certain behavioral acts may occur, but also how long they may last.

Clock genes are also found in humans they have been conserved between tiny fruit flies and humans through millions of years of separate evolution. In humans, they affect a vast array of functions from sleep to body temperature, the nervous and hormonal systems, moods and work productivity.

Clock genes also regulate time perception in humans, a process that may be somehow related to measuring time elapsed in the act of mating by flies, Giebultowicz said. To understand how clock genes are involved in regulating the length of behavioral acts and short-term time perception will require further study, she said.

This is the first report showing that selected clock genes are involved in timing behavioral events that are measured in minutes, Giebultowicz said.


Contact: Jaga Giebultowicz
Oregon State University

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