Neuroethology of male courtship in Drosophila: From the gene to behavior

Daisuke Yamamoto, Kosei Sato, Masayuki Koganezawa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Neurogenetic analyses in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster revealed that gendered behaviors, including courtship, are underpinned by sexually dimorphic neural circuitries, whose development is directed in a sex-specific manner by transcription factor genes, fruitless (fru) and doublesex (dsx), two core members composing the sex-determination cascade. Via chromatin modification the Fru proteins translated specifically in the male nervous system lead the fru-expressing neurons to take on the male fate, as manifested by their male-specific survival or male-specific neurite formations. One such male-specific neuron group, P1, was shown to be activated when the male taps the female abdomen. Moreover, when artificially activated, P1 neurons are sufficient to induce the entire repertoire of the male courtship ritual. These studies provide a conceptual framework for understanding how the genetic code for innate behavior can be embodied in the neuronal substrate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-264
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Apr


  • Chromatin
  • fruitless
  • Identified neurons
  • Pheromones
  • Sexual dimorphism


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