Friday, November 29, 2013
Sex-starved fruit flies live shorter, more stressful lives
Sexual frustration impairs the health of fruit flies and causes premature death, according to new research.
Scientists found that male flies who were stimulated to mate but prevented from doing so, had their lives cut short by up to 40%.
Those allowed to copulate not only lived longer but suffered less stress.
The research is published in the Journal Science.
In the experiment, the flies were put in close proximity to genetically modified males who had been altered to release female sex pheromones.
These hormones are used by flies to judge whether a potential mate is nearby, so when males secreted this sexually charged scent, it instantly aroused other males.
But crucially, they were not able to mate.
The flies that were tantalised but denied any action showed more stress, a decrease in their fat-stores and had their lives cut short dramatically.
"We immediately observed that they looked quite sick very soon in the presence of these effeminised males," explained Dr Scott Pletcher at the University of Michigan, US, co-author of the research. bbc