Study on Sex-Deprived Fruit Flies’ Alcohol Preference Could Uncover Answers for Human Addictions
After being deprived of sex, male fruit flies, known as Drosophila melanogaster, may turn to alcohol to fulfill a physiological demand for a reward, according to a study recently published in the journal Science. Troy Zars, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri and neurobiology expert, said that understanding why rejected male flies find solace in ethanol could help treat human addictions.
“Identifying the molecular and genetic mechanisms controlling the demand for reward in fruit flies could potentially influence our understanding of drug and alcohol abuse in humans, since previous studies have detailed similarities between signaling pathways in fruit flies and mammals,” Zars said.
In the study, male fruit flies that had mated repeatedly for several days showed no preference for alcohol-spiked food. On the other hand, spurned males and those denied access to females strongly preferred food mixed with 15 percent alcohol. The researchers believed the alcohol may have satisfied the flies’ desire for physical reward.
Zars said the new discovery could lead to greater understanding of the relationship between the social and physical causes of substance abuse in humans.
“The authors provide new insights into a neural circuit that links a rewarding social interaction with a lasting change in behavior preference,” Zars said.
The above story is based on the March 15, 2012 release by the news bureau of the University of Missouri-Columbia.
The research is published by the The American Association for the Advancement of Science, (AAAS), an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association: G. Shohat-Ophir, K. R. Kaun, R. Azanchi, U. Heberlein. Sexual Deprivation Increases Ethanol Intake in Drosophila. Science, 2012; 335 (6074): 1351 DOI: 10.1126/science.1215932