Thursday, 3 May 2018

Flies enjoy having sex and will resort to alcohol if they can’t get it, scientists find

Unusual experiment could provide insights into addiction to rewarding substances

Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent 
The Independent Online

Sex – specifically ejaculation – is an enjoyable experience for male fruit flies, scientists have found, while demonstrating that the sex starved among them are more likely to consume alcohol in order to gain an alternative reward.

The unusual research not only demonstrated that enjoyment of ejaculation appears to be a fairly universal phenomenon, it could also be used to understand the biology of addiction.

"We wanted to know which part of the mating process entails the rewarding value for flies," said Dr Galit Shohat-Ophir of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, who co-authored the study.

"The actions that males perform during courtship? A female's pheromones? The last step of mating which is sperm and seminal fluid release?"

To determine what a fly does and does not find pleasurable, the scientists made use of so-called “optogenetic” tools.

This allows researchers to genetically engineer creatures with brain cells that can be essentially switched on and off using light.

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