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Publication Detail
Active process mediates species-specific tuning of Drosophila ears.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Article
  • Authors:
    Riabinina O, Dai M, Duke T, Albert JT
  • Publication date:
    26/04/2011
  • Pagination:
    658, 664
  • Journal:
    Curr Biol
  • Volume:
    21
  • Issue:
    8
  • Country:
    England
  • Print ISSN:
    1879-0445
  • PII:
    S0960-9822(11)00273-9
  • Language:
    eng
  • Keywords:
    Animal Communication, Animals, Arthropod Antennae, Auditory Pathways, Auditory Perception, Courtship, Drosophila, Drosophila melanogaster, Female, Male, Sexual Behavior, Animal, Species Specificity, Vibration, Wing
Abstract
The courtship behavior of Drosophilid flies has served as a long-standing model for studying the bases of animal communication. During courtship, male flies flap their wings to send a complex pattern of airborne vibrations to the antennal ears of the females. These "courtship songs" differ in their spectrotemporal composition across species and are considered a crucial component of the flies' premating barrier. However, whether the species-specific differences in song structure are also reflected in the receivers of this communication system, i.e., the flies' antennal ears, has remained unexplored. Here we show for seven members of the melanogaster species group that (1) their ears are mechanically tuned to different best frequencies, (2) the ears' best frequencies correlate with high-frequency pulses of the conspecific courtship songs, and (3) the species-specific tuning relies on amplificatory mechanical feedback from the flies' auditory neurons. As a result of its level-dependent nature, the active mechanical feedback amplification is particularly useful for the detection of small stimuli, such as conspecific song pulses, and becomes negligible for sensing larger stimuli, such as the flies' own wingbeat during flight.
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