Trade-off between toxicity and signal detection orchestrated by frequency- and density-dependent genes.

Research paper by Laury L Arthaud, Selim Ben SB Rokia-Mille, Hussein H Raad, Aviv A Dombrovsky, Nicolas N Prevost, Maria M Capovilla, Alain A Robichon

Indexed on: 01 Jun '11Published on: 01 Jun '11Published in: PloS one


Behaviors in insects are partly highly efficient Bayesian processes that fulfill exploratory tasks ending with the colonization of new ecological niches. The foraging (for) gene in Drosophila encodes a cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG). It has been extensively described as a frequency-dependent gene and its transcripts are differentially expressed between individuals, reflecting the population density context. Some for transcripts, when expressed in a population at high density for many generations, concomitantly trigger strong dispersive behavior associated with foraging activity. Moreover, genotype-by-environment interaction (GEI) analysis has highlighted a dormant role of for in energetic metabolism in a food deprivation context. In our current report, we show that alleles of for encoding different cGMP-dependent kinase isoforms influence the oxidation of aldehyde groups of aromatic molecules emitted by plants via Aldh-III and a phosphorylatable adaptor. The enhanced efficiency of oxidation of aldehyde odorants into carboxyl groups by the action of for lessens their action and toxicity, which should facilitate exploration and guidance in a complex odor environment. Our present data provide evidence that optimal foraging performance requires the fast metabolism of volatile compounds emitted by plants to avoid neurosensory saturation and that the frequency-dependent genes that trigger dispersion influence these processes.