Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Love hangover - the sex peptide

A male, after copulation, has a particular interest in seeing that the female involved ceases further sexual activity that might dilute his genetic contribution. It turns out that male fruitflies don't have to stand by and guard their transferred genetic material — a sex peptide in their semen will do the job. This peptide leads to increased egg-laying by the mated female and behavioural changes that reduce the likelihood of her re-mating. Yapici et al. have now identified the receptor protein for this peptide. It functions in a subset of neurons implicated in other sex-related behaviors. The receptor is highly conserved across insect species, raising the possibility that it could be targeted to disrupt reproduction in insect pests or host-seeking behaviour in disease vectors. (There appears to be no evidence for such a mechanism in primates and humans!).

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