Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2017Peer reviewedOpen access

Insulin signalling in the peripheral and central nervous system regulates female sexual receptivity during starvation in Drosophila

Lebreton, Sebastien; Carlsson, Mikael A.; Witzgall, Peter


Many animals adjust their reproductive behavior according to nutritional state and food availability. Drosophila females for instance decrease their sexual receptivity following starvation. Insulin signaling, which regulates many aspects of insect physiology and behavior, also affects reproduction in females. We show that insulin signaling is involved in the starvation-induced reduction in female receptivity. More specifically, females mutant for the insulin-like peptide 5 (dilp5) were less affected by starvation compared to the other dilp mutants and wild-type flies. Knocking-down the insulin receptor, either in all fruitless-positive neurons or a subset of these neurons dedicated to the perception of a male aphrodisiac pheromone, decreased the effect of starvation on female receptivity. Disrupting insulin signaling in some parts of the brain, including the mushroom bodies even abolished the effect of starvation. In addition, we identified fruitless-positive neurons in the dorso-lateral protocerebrumand in themushroombodies co-expressing the insulin receptor. Together, our results suggest that the interaction of insulin peptides determines the tuning of female sexual behavior, either by acting on pheromone perception or directly in the central nervous system.


mating behavior; feeding state; insulin; fruitless; mushroom bodies

Published in

Frontiers in Physiology
2017, Volume: 8, article number: 685