Involvement of desat1 gene in the control of Drosophila melanogaster pheromone biosynthesis.
ABSTRACT Cuticular pheromones in Drosophila melanogaster are unsaturated hydrocarbons with at least one double bond in position 7: 7-tricosene and 7-pentacosene in males and 7,11 -heptacosadiene and 7,11 -nonacosadiene in females. We have previously shown that a desaturase gene, desat1, located in chromosome region 87 C could be involved in this process: the Desat1 enzyme preferentially leads to the synthesis of palmitoleic acid, a precursor of omega7 fatty acids and 7-unsaturated hydrocarbons. Therefore, we have searched for P-elements in the 87 region and mapped them. One was found inserted into the first intron of the desat1 gene. Flies heterozygous for this insertion showed a large decrease in the level of 7-unsaturated hydrocarbons, comparable to that observed in flies heterozygous for a deficiency overlapping desat1. Less than 1 % of flies homozygous for this insertion were viable. They were characterized by dramatic pheromone decreases. After excision of the transposon, the pheromone phenotype was reversed in 69% of the lines and the other excision lines had more or less decreased amounts of 7-unsaturated hydrocarbons. All these results implicate desat1 in the synthesis of Drosophila pheromones.
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ABSTRACT: Many species of Drosophila form conspecific pupa aggregations across the breeding sites. These aggregations could result from species-specific larval odor recognition. To test this hypothesis we used larval odors of D. melanogaster and D. pavani, two species that coexist in the nature. When stimulated by those odors, wild type and vestigial (vg) third-instar larvae of D. melanogaster pupated on conspecific larval odors, but individuals deficient in the expression of the odor co-receptor Orco randomly pupated across the substrate, indicating that in this species, olfaction plays a role in pupation site selection. Larvae are unable to learn but can smell, the Syn97CS and rut strains of D. melanogaster, did not respond to conspecific odors or D. pavani larval cues, and they randomly pupated across the substrate, suggesting that larval odor-based learning could influence the pupation site selection. Thus, Orco, Syn97CS and rut loci participated in the pupation site selection. When stimulated by conspecific and D. melanogaster larval cues, D. pavani larvae also pupated on conspecific odors. The larvae of D. gaucha, a sibling species of D. pavani, did not respond to D. melanogaster larval cues, pupating randomly across the substrate. In nature, D. gaucha is isolated from D. melanogaster. Interspecific hybrids, which result from crossing pavani female with gaucha males clumped their pupae similarly to D. pavani, but the behavior of gaucha female x pavani male hybrids was similar to D. gaucha parent. The two sibling species show substantial evolutionary divergence in organization and functioning of larval nervous system. D. melanogaster and D. pavani larvae extracted information about odor identities and the spatial location of congener and alien larvae to select pupation sites. We hypothesize that larval recognition contributes to the cohabitation of species with similar ecologies, thus aiding the organization and persistence of Drosophila species guilds in the wild.PLoS ONE 07/2014; 9(7):e102159. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Desaturase genes are essential for biological processes, including lipid metabolism, cell signaling, and membrane fluidity regulation. Insect desaturases are particularly interesting for their role in chemical communication, and potential contribution to speciation, symbioses, and sociality. Here, we describe the acyl-CoA desaturase gene families of 15 insects, with a focus on social Hymenoptera. Phylogenetic reconstruction revealed that the insect desaturases represent an ancient gene family characterized by eight subfamilies that differ strongly in their degree of conservation and frequency of gene gain and loss. Analyses of genomic organization showed that five of these subfamilies are represented in a highly microsyntenic region conserved across holometabolous insect taxa, indicating an ancestral expansion during early insect evolution. In three subfamilies, ants exhibit particularly large expansions of genes. Despite these expansions, however, selection analyses showed that desaturase genes in all insect lineages are predominantly undergoing strong purifying selection. Finally, for three expanded subfamilies, we show that ants exhibit variation in gene expression between species, and more importantly, between sexes and castes within species. This suggests functional differentiation of these genes and a role in the regulation of reproductive division of labor in ants. The dynamic pattern of gene gain and loss of acyl-CoA desaturases in ants may reflect changes in response to ecological diversification and an increased demand for chemical signal variability. This may provide an example of how gene family expansions can contribute to lineage-specific adaptations through structural and regulatory changes acting in concert to produce new adaptive phenotypes. © The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.Molecular Biology and Evolution 11/2014; · 14.31 Impact Factor