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Animal Behavior, 2nd Edition

Chapter 3: Proximate Factors

Fruit Fly Larvae Foraging

Dr. C. A. L. Riedl

Given the intimate link between genes and behavior, single gene mutations can have drastic effects on the behavior of organisms. In fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), genetic variation at the foraging (for) locus produces dimorphic larval foraging locomotion. This video clip shows the pronounced behavioral difference between “rover” versus “sitter” larvae, and it depicts the behavioral assay employed by Maria Sokolowski and her collaborators in examining the behavioral genetics of fruit fly foraging behavior. Mutations of a gene encoding a soluble guanylyl cyclase subunit of a cGMP-dependent protein kinase increased the activity of that protein kinase and foraging locomotion in larvae from both rover and sitter strains. The exact genes that are differentially transcribed as a result of that mutation are strain-dependent, however, indicating that genetic background has a tangible effect on the molecular effects of a mutation.

See Chapter 2 – The Evolution of Behavior, Chapter 3 -- Proximate Factors.

Further reading – Riedl, C.A.L, Neal, S.J., Robichon, A., Westwood, J.T. and Sokolowski, M.B. (2005). Drosophila soluble guanylyl cyclase mutants exhibit increased foraging locomotion: Behavioral and genomic investigations Behavior Genetics 35: 231-244.