Courtship is a costly business in terms of both time and energy, so animals must make sure that they've found a willing partner before making the effort — a job often done through pheromone communication. Now Richard Benton and colleagues have discovered that fruitfly males also need the proximity of good food before they commit to a courtship routine. They identify a member of a recently described chemosensory ion-channel family — Ionotropic receptor 84a — as key to sensing fruit-derived aromatics and gating pheromone-sensing neuronal pathways that control courtship routines. Such cross-talk between olfactory and pheromonal circuits constitutes a previously unrecognized evolutionary mechanism coupling reproductive behaviour to good feeding and oviposition sites.
- An olfactory receptor for food-derived odours promotes male courtship in Drosophila (Letter p236, doi: 10.1038/nature10428)
- (News & Views p190, doi: 10.1038/478190a)
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