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Published October 16, 2012 | Supplemental Material + Published
Journal Article Open

Social structures depend on innate determinants and chemosensory processing in Drosophila


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.

Additional Information

© 2012 National Academy of Sciences. Edited by Gene E. Robinson, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, IL, and approved May 14, 2012 (received for review February 9, 2012) We thank Jean-Christoph Billeter, Jayed Atallah, Rebecca Rooke, Altaf Ramji, Carl Bergstrom, Phillip Kim, Laurent Keller, Bruce Schneider, Andrew Straw, and Kristin Branson for their suggestions and discussion. This study was funded by grants from the Canada Research Chair, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (to J.D.L.) and by National Science Foundation Grant 0623527 (to M.H.D.). Author contributions: J.S. and J.D.L. designed research; J.S. and J.D.L. performed research; J.S. and M.H.D. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; J.S. analyzed data; and J.S., M.H.D., and J.D.L. wrote the paper. The authors declare no conflict of interest. This article is a PNAS Direct Submission. This paper results from the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium of the National Academy of Sciences, "Biological Embedding of Early Social Adversity: From Fruit Flies to Kindergartners," held December 9–10, 2011, at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering in Irvine, CA. The complete program and audio files of most presentations are available on the NAS Web site at www.nasonline.org/biological-embedding. This article contains supporting information online at www.pnas.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1073/pnas.1121252109/-/DCSupplemental.

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Published - 17174.full.pdf

Supplemental Material - pnas.201121252SI.pdf

Supplemental Material - sm01.mov

Supplemental Material - sm02.mov

Supplemental Material - sm03.mov

Supplemental Material - sm04.mov

Supplemental Material - sm05.mov


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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023