Rxivist logo

The scent of the fly

By Paul G. Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika A. Wallin, Erik Hedenström, Felipe Borrero, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jörger, Peter Witzgall

Posted 19 Oct 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/206375 (published DOI: 10.1007/s10886-018-0950-4)

(Z)-4-undecenal (Z4-11Al) is the volatile pheromone produced by females of the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster. Female flies emit Z4-11Al for species-specific communication and mate-finding. A sensory panel finds that synthetic Z4-11Al has a characteristic flavour, which we perceive even at the small amounts produced by one female fly. Since only females produce Z4-11Al, and not males, we can reliably distinguish between single D. melanogaster males and females, according to their scent. Females release Z4-11Al at 2.4 ng/h and we readily sense 1 ng synthetic Z4-11Al in a glass of wine (0.03 nmol/L), while a tenfold concentration is perceived as a loud off-flavour. This corroborates the observation that a glass of wine is spoilt by a single D. melanogaster fly falling into it, which we here show is caused by Z4-11Al. The biological role of Z4-11Al or structurally related aldehydes in humans and the basis for this semiochemical convergence remains yet unclear.

Download data

  • Downloaded 1,427 times
  • Download rankings, all-time:
    • Site-wide: 19,123
    • In animal behavior and cognition: 129
  • Year to date:
    • Site-wide: 90,952
  • Since beginning of last month:
    • Site-wide: 60,351

Altmetric data

Downloads over time

Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide