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Sleep vs. sex? How the fruit fly decides

Drosophila, commonly known as the fruit fly, is one of the most researched and understood organisms in the world of science. They are of particular interest because of their impact on the fields of genetics.

Science has discovered a lot about of the fruit fly and its genetic makeup over the years, and a recent study from the journal Nature Communications has found interesting patterns in a fruit fly’s decision to mate or sleep.

Obviously, one has to take precedence over the other, but how the fruit flies decide which is more important in the moment varies based on gender.

The study found that sleep deprived males were less inclined to mate. For females, however, their sleeping habits had no effect on their determination to mate. Researchers say this may be because of the females need to reproduce at any cost, with a rate of anywhere between 30 and 50 eggs a day. But sleepy males were not aroused compared to sleep deprived females.

The research was compiled by a group effort between scientists at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Southeast University in China, and the University of San Diego, with the corresponding author Michael Nitabach, a professor of cellular and molecular physiology and genetics at Yale University.

The study explains the lack of sex drive in sleep deprived males as an “adaptive behavior,” because falling asleep during sex could result in failure to pass on genes.

The research team also found “a neuronal connection that regulates the interplay between courtship and sleep,” says Nitabach. These findings could be used to look at humans and their biological drives for sleep and sex, if and when the two are pitted against each other.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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