NS Keep-'em-keen gene stops insects starting a family
- Keep-'em-keen gene stops insects starting a family* 15 December 2007 New Scientist** Magazine issue 2634MATING is all very well, but if an insect doesn't stop courting and start laying eggs afterwards, its population won't grow. Now researchers have found the gene that is crucial to this behavioural switch, suggesting a possible way to control insect populations.Female mosquitoes and fruit flies spend a lot of time enticing males to mate with them. But once they have succeeded, their behaviour changes and they start laying eggs. The trigger for this is a small protein called sex peptide (SP) in the male's semen.Barry Dickson and colleagues at the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna, Austria, were searching for genes that controlled the reproductive process, and found that when they turned one off, females kept on courting and didn't lay many eggs. This was the gene for the SP receptor, expressed in the reproductive tract and in brain areas involved in mating.The team ...The complete article is 305 words long.