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Drosophila Sexual Attractiveness in Older Males Is Mediated by Their Microbiota

Abstract : Age is well known to be a basis for female preference of males. However, the mechanisms underlying age-based choices are not well understood, with several competing theories and little consensus. The idea that the microbiota can affect host mate choice is gaining traction, and in this study we examine whether the male microbiota influences female preference for older individuals in the fruit fly Drosophila pseudoobscura. We find that an intact microbiota is a key component of attractiveness in older males. However, we found no evidence that this decrease in older male attractiveness was simply due to impaired microbiota generally reducing male quality. Instead, we suggest that the microbiota underlies an honest signal used by females to assess male age, and that impaired microbiota disrupt this signal. This suggests that age-based preferences may break down in environments where the microbiota is impaired, for example when individuals are exposed to naturally occurring antibiotics, extreme temperatures, or in animals reared in laboratories on antibiotic supplemented diet.
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Chloe Heys, Anne Lizé, Zenobia Lewis, Tom a R Price. Drosophila Sexual Attractiveness in Older Males Is Mediated by Their Microbiota. Microorganisms, 2020, 8 (2), pp.168. ⟨10.3390/microorganisms8020168⟩. ⟨hal-02470911⟩

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