Quantitative analysis of visually induced courtship elements in Drosophila subobscura

Tomohiro Higuchi, Soh Kohatsu, Daisuke Yamamoto

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    We developed a new paradigm for quantitative analysis of courtship behavior in flies, Fly Motion-detector with an Actuator-Coupled Stimulator (FlyMacs), in which the stimulation of a fly with a moving visual target and recording of induced behaviors are automated under computer control. We employ FlyMacs for the identification of motion features that trigger specific courtship elements in Drosophila subobscura, whose mating is suggested to be strongly vision dependent. A female abdomen attached to the actuator, when moved in an appropriate pattern, evokes in the test male tapping-like foreleg motions, midleg swing and proboscis extension, which are considered to be elementary actions in male courtship behavior. Tapping is primarily induced when the target is moving, whereas midleg swing and proboscis extension are most frequently observed after the target stops moving. In contrast to midleg swing, which tends to occur immediately after target cessation (∼3000 ms), the incidence of proboscis extension gradually increases with time after target cessation, reaching a plateau at 3000 ms. The results suggest that tapping, midleg swing and proboscis extension are each induced by different movement features of the visual target. These findings do not support the view that a single key stimulus induces the entire courtship ritual. Rather, courtship behaviors in D. subobscura are correlated with movement and position of the target, which suggests that D. subobscura uses sensory information to pattern its courtship.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)49-57
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of neurogenetics
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 3


    • Fruit flies
    • mating behavior
    • motion detection
    • sensorimotor control
    • sex difference

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Genetics
    • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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