The genomic response to courtship song stimulation in female Drosophila melanogaster

Elina Immonen, Michael G. Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Courtship behaviour involves a complex exchange of signals and responses. These are usually studied at the phenotypic level, and genetic or transcriptional responses to courtship are still poorly understood. Here, we examine the gene-expression changes in Drosophila melanogaster females in response to one of the key male courtship signals in mate recognition, song produced by male wing vibration. Using long oligonucleotide microarrays, we identified several genes that responded differentially to the presence or absence of acoustic courtship stimulus. These changes were modest in both the number of genes involved and fold-changes, but notably dominated by antennal signalling genes involved in olfaction as well as neuropeptides and immune response genes. Second, we compared the expression patterns of females stimulated with synthetic song typical of either conspecific or heterospecific (Drosophila simulans) males. In this case, antennal olfactory signalling and innate immunity genes were also enriched among the differentially expressed genes. We confirmed and investigated the time course of expression differences of two identified immunity genes using real-time quantitative PCR. Our results provide novel insight into specific molecular changes in females in response to courtship song stimulation. These may be involved in both signal perception and interpretation and some may anticipate molecular interactions that occur between the sexes after mating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1359-1365
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1732
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2012


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