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Sex, Flies & Alcohol

March 29, 2012

Sex-deprived male fruit flies consume more alcohol than sexually satisfied flies.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Sex, bugs, and alcohol.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When fruit flies can’t get sex, they’ll turn to booze.  This according to anatomy professor Ulrike Heberlein of theUniversityofCalifornia, San Francisco.  Her postdoc Galit Shohat Ophir left male fruit flies with either sexually receptive virgin females, or uninterested, recently mated females, for four days.  Then the male flies were given a choice of normal food or food spiked with alcohol.

ULRIKE HEBERLEIN (UniversityofCalifornia,San Francisco):

And Galit found that the flies that had been rejected drunk a lot more from the alcohol-laced food compared to the regular food. Which was not true for the males that had mated.

HIRSHON:
Further studies showed that sex-starved flies’ brains had lower levels of neuropeptide F, a transmitter involved in reward.  And that alcohol temporarily boosts that transmitter.  The findings may help scientists better understand social influences on addiction in humans.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.