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Paper Chase

A single social defeat reduces aggression in a highly aggressive strain of Drosophila.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.. Jul 13, 2010;107(28):12682-6.
Penn JK, Zito MF, Kravitz EA.

Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Genes and prior experience both influence the behavior of animals, but the relative contribution of each to fighting behavior in Drosophila remains unclear. To address this issue, we bred hyperaggressive flies by selecting winners of fights over 34-37 generations. Males of this strain initiate fights sooner, retaliate more often, and regularly defeat opponents from the nonselected parent Canton-S strain. After a defeat, however, these highly aggressive flies lose their second fights against socially naïve counterparts. Defeated flies also lunge and retaliate less after experiencing a loss, suggesting that the subsequent losses result from flies becoming less aggressive. Remarkably, flies that were once capable of engaging in high-intensity boxing and tussling patterns of behavior for extended periods of time often do not even engage in mid-intensity lunging after a single defeat. Furthermore, these formerly highly aggressive flies lose all competitive advantage over nonselected Canton-S after experiencing a loss. Lastly, females were more likely to copulate with males from the nonselected parent line than with the hyperaggressive strain.