DAVIS, Calif., Oct. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers at the University of California-Davis say they have successfully tricked fruit flies into believing silkworm moths are potential mates.
The groundbreaking research conducted by chemical ecologist Walter Leal and genetics researcher Deborah Kimbrell showed genetically engineered fruit flies responded to the silkworm moth scent of a female.
The scientists say the practical implications of their findings could be widespread. For example, methods that can attract or repel insects have important applications for agricultural pests and medical entomology. The research could also lead to designing better chemicals to attract insects and designing better chemicals to suppress insect communication, since insects communicate, or smell, through their antennae.
The University of California-Davis team obtained fruit fly mutants with an empty neuron (or neuron without a receptor) from Yale University molecular biologist John Carlson. The University of California researchers then introduced a sex pheromone receptor from the silkworm moth into the fruit fly, tested the signals, and drew a positive response.
Their work appears in the current edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.