July 16, 2009

New fruit fly pheromone is discovered

U.S. scientists using a new form of high-resolution laser mass spectrometry say they have discovered a new fruit fly pheromone.

Scientists led by Professor Edward Kravitz at the Harvard Medical School said they were scanning the surface of fruit flies when they discovered the previously unidentified pheromone -- CH503 -- that contributes to the anti-aphrodisiac effects observed in female fruit flies after copulation.

The researchers said the anti-aphrodisiac effect of copulation had been observed to last for more than a week in female Drosophila melanogaster, although the only previously identified fruit fly pheromone, cVA, remains active on the female for only 24 hours.

The researchers said their identification of CH503, and the discovery that it remains active on the female for up to 10 days, might help solve that behavioral mystery.

The research that included Joanne Yew, as well as Edward Kravitz and Klaus Dreisewerd at the University of Munster in Germany, appears in the early online edition of the journal Current Biology and will be published in the journal's Aug. 11 print edition.