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The sexually dimorphic behaviour of adult Drosophila suzukii: Elevated female locomotor activity and loss of siesta is a post-mating response

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Neil AudsleyORCiD


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© 2015. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. The polyphagous Drosophila suzukii is a highly invasive species that causes extensive damage to a wide range of berry and stone fruit crops. A better understanding of its biology and especially its behaviour will aid the development of new control strategies. We investigated the locomotor behaviour of D. suzukii in a semi-natural environment resembling a typical summer in northern England and show that adult female D. suzukii are at least 4-fold more active during daylight hours than adult males. This result was reproduced in several laboratory environments and was shown to be a robust feature of mated, but not virgin, female flies. Both males and virgin females kept on a 12 h light:12 h dark (12LD) cycle and constant temperature displayed night-time inactivity (sleep) followed by weak activity in the morning, an afternoon period of quiescence (siesta) and then a prominent evening peak of activity. Both the siesta and the sharp evening peak at lights off were severely reduced in females after mating. Flies of either sex entrained in 12LD displayed a circadian pattern of activity in constant darkness confirming the importance of an endogenous clock in regulating adult activity. This response of females to mating is similar to that elicited in female Drosophila melanogaster by the male sex peptide (SP). We used mass spectrometry to identify a molecular ion (m/z, 5145) corresponding to the poly-hydroxylated SP of D. suzukii and to show that this molecule is transferred to the female reproductive tract during copulation. We propose that the siesta experienced by male and virgin female D. suzukii is an adaptation to avoid unnecessary exposure to the afternoon sun, but that mated females faced with the challenge of obtaining resources for egg production and finding oviposition sites take greater risks, and we suggest that the change in female behaviour is induced by the male SP.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ferguson CTJ, O'Neill TL, Audsley N, Isaac RE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Experimental Biology

Year: 2015

Volume: 218

Issue: 23

Pages: 3855-3861

Print publication date: 01/12/2015

Online publication date: 02/12/2015

Acceptance date: 08/10/2015

ISSN (print): 0022-0949

ISSN (electronic): 1477-9145

Publisher: The Company of Biologists Ltd


DOI: 10.1242/jeb.125468

PubMed id: 26486360


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