Swiss scientist Yaël Grosjean has discovered that sexual orientation in fruit flies is controlled by a previously unknown regulator of chemicals in the brain. While the evolutionary basis for homosexuality remains a mystery, researchers have succeeded in using genetic manipulation or drugs to turn the flies’ homosexual behaviour on and off within a matter of hours. While the genetic finding supports the thinking that homosexuality is hard-wired, i.e. there is a “gay gene”, the drug findings surprisingly suggests it’s not that simple. A gene mutation meant fruit flies could not distinguish chemical smells, called pheromones that can tell if other flies are male of female. These mutated male flies were engaging in courtship no matter that the other fly was male or female.
Posted on Dec 18, 2007 by swissjourno