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Too much male attention ruins pretty females: New Study

One of the biggest perk of being beautiful is getting overwhelming attention. And mostly every attractive person enjoys that. However, according to a new study by Australian and Canadian researchers on fruit flies, excessive male sexual attention ruins pretty females.

Steve Chenoweth who is the associate professor of the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences stated the study projected that male aggravation of females disrupted the species’ ability to adjust to new environmental conditions.


Mating pair of Drosophila serrata. Photo Credit: Antoine Morin

He said, “Female fruit flies with superior genes that allow them to lay more eggs were so attractive to male suitors they spent most of the time fending off male suitors rather than actually laying eggs.”

The consequence was that the apparent “superior” genes of the sexually gorgeous females couldn’t be passed on to the next generation. The genes enhanced their egg-laying ability, but with the unfortunate side effect of bumping up their sexual attractiveness to a level where male flies would stay inseparable from them.

The researchers permitted two separate groups of flies to adapt to a novel environment in the lab of the University of 13 generations. They controlled the number of prospective mates that male and female flies had in each group, thus regulating the possible harassment rate.

After the experiment, researchers looked at the chain of genomes of the flies. They established that several genes became common when aggravation was prohibited while the same genes become rare when aggravation was permitted.

Chenoweth said that they “have known for some time” of the unsafe connections between males and females. “However, we hadn’t realized there may be a large number of genes fuelling the interactions, or that these types of genes hamper a species’ ability to adapt to a new conditions,” he added.

He further said that future prospects of the study involved indicating the exact kinds of gene functions involved and to know the larger results of connections between male and females, besides their link to the revolutionary history of other species.

The researcher team included Mr Nicholas Appleton, an UQ Science (honours) student, Mr Scott Allen, an UQ PhD student and Howard Rundle who is the associate professor in the University of Ottawa.

The research was published today in Current Biology.

Earlier in 2014, researchers of Oxford University stated that flies who live with their brothers cause “less harm” to females. (See official release) Dr. Tommaso Pizzari of Department of Zoology from Oxford University, who headed the study said that in wide populations, brothers “don’t need to compete so much with each other for female attention” because their genes “will get passed on if their sibling mates successfully anyway.”

He added that living with brothers makes a fly carry a “more relaxed attitude to mating” that causes lesser fights between them and also less harm to the females as against “when unrelated flies are together, the females are constantly being pestered for sex, which may leave them little time to eat or rest.”

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