Brains of Male Fruit Flies Contain Special Cells That Make Them Want to Fight

Posted on February 8, 2014

Image of fighting fruit flies


Scientists have discovered that the brains of mail fruit flies (Drosophilae) contain special cells that make them want to fight. The cells release a hormone linked to aggression. The cells are absent in the brains of female fruit flies. The research was led by California Institute of Technology (Caltech) biologist David Anderson.

Anderson says in a statement, "The sex-specific cells that we identified exert their effects on fighting by releasing a particular type of neuropeptide, or hormone, that has also been implicated in aggression in mammals including mouse and rat. In addition, there are some recent papers implicating increased levels of this hormone in people with personality disorders that lead to higher levels of aggression."

The cells linked to aggression release a neuropeptide called tachykinin, or Tk. Scientists were able to make flies super aggressive by tweaking the neurons. New York Times science writer James Gorman reported on the fly fighting discovery. Take a look:



A research paper on the brain cells that make fruit flies aggressive was published here in the journal, Cell.

Photo: Anderson Lab/Caltech