Journal of Genetics

, Volume 84, Issue 2, pp 195–216 | Cite as

Behaviour genetics ofDrosophila: Non-sexual behaviour

Review Article


The analysis of genetic behaviour within and between species provides important clues about the forces shaping the evolution of behavioural genes. Genes can affect natural behavioural variation in different ways. Allelic variation causes alternative behavioural phenotypes, whereas changes in gene expression can influence the initiation of behaviour at different ages. Identifying the genes involved in polygenic traits has been difficult. Chromosomal analysis has been widely used as a first step in elucidating the genetic architecture of several behaviours ofDrosophila. Behavioural genetic and molecular studies helped to reveal the genetic basis of circadian time keeping and rhythmic behaviours. InDrosophila, a number of key processes such as emergence from the pupal case, locomotor activity, feeding, olfaction and aspects of mating behaviour are under circadian regulation. Evolutionary biology considers migration behaviour as central in genetic structure of populations and speciation. Genetic loci that influence behaviour are often difficult to identify and localise in part due to the quantitative nature of behavioural phenotypes. Diapause is a hormonally mediated delayed response to future adverse conditions and can occur at any stage of development in an insect. Diapauseassociated gene expression was studied inDrosophila using subtractive hybridisation. Several approaches have been made to unravel the genetic complexity of the behaviour, which have provided information that may be useful in different ways. There is evidence that species do differ in genetic architecture of photoresponse and this may be related to their natural environment. The classical experiments by Jerry Hirsh and Th. Dobzhansky to know the nature of genetic basis for extreme selected geotactic behaviour in fruit flies constituted the first attempt at the genetic dissection of a complex, polygenic behaviour. Understanding the genetic differences between these selected lines would provide an important point of entry into the study of genetic mechanisms of sensing and responding to gravity, as well as clues to the origins of genetic flexibility and plasticity in an organism’s response.


Drosophila genetics non-sexual behaviour 


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© Indian Academy of Sciences 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Genetics Laboratory, Department of ZoologyBanaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia

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