Define irony: A study to pinpoint the genetic origins of sexual identity is using FRUIT FLIES as subjects.
When the genetically altered fruit fly was released into the observation chamber, it did what these breeders par excellence tend to do. It pursued a waiting virgin female. It gently tapped the girl with its leg, played her a song (using wings as instruments) and, only then, dared to lick her - all part of standard fruit fly seduction.Researchers have nicknamed the genetically altered fruit fly "Shane".
The observing scientist looked with disbelief at the show, for the suitor in this case was not a male, but a female that researchers had artificially endowed with a single male-type gene.
That one gene, the researchers are announcing today in the journal Cell, is apparently by itself enough to create patterns of sexual behavior - a kind of master sexual gene that normally exists in two distinct male and female variants.