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Social structures depend on innate determinants and chemosensory processing in Drosophila

Jonathan Schneider, Michael H. Dickinson and Joel D. Levine
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 109, Supplement 2: Biological Embedding of Early Social Adversity: From Fruit Flies to Kindergartners (October 16, 2012), pp. 17174-17179
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41763509
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Social structures depend on innate determinants and chemosensory processing in Drosophila
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Abstract

Flies display transient social interactions in groups. However, whether fly-fly interactions are stochastic or structured remains unknown. We hypothesized that groups of flies exhibit patterns of social dynamics that would manifest as nonrandom social interaction networks. To test this, we applied a machine vision system to track the position and orientation of flies in an arena and designed a classifier to detect interactions between pairs of flies. We show that the vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster, forms nonrandom social interaction networks, distinct from virtual network controls (constructed from the intersections of individual locomotor trajectories). In addition, the formation of interaction networks depends on chemosensory cues. Gustatory mutants form networks that cannot be distinguished from their virtual network controls. Olfactory mutants form networks that are greatly disrupted compared with control flies. Different wild-type strains form social interaction networks with quantitatively different properties, suggesting that the genes that influence this network phenotype vary across and within wild-type populations. We have established a paradigm for studying social behaviors at a group level in Drosophila and expect that a genetic dissection of this phenomenon will identify conserved molecular mechanisms of social organization in other species.

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