The fruit fly fight club

1 min read

Study of fruit flies facilities research on neurobiology of aggression

Fruit flies fight. The males will go after each other, fighting to establish dominance. Edward Kravitz, the George Packer Berry professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, is using the fighting fruit fly model system to explore the neurobiology of aggression. Previously Kravitz has used fighting lobsters to study changes in the brain that occur after fights. While it may sound fanciful, Kravitz’s work is serious. “Aggression is a serious problem in society, but even after studies of lots of animal models for many years, we don’t know a lot about the biological basis of aggression,” Kravitz said. “We know that some chemicals like serotonin are very important, but beyond that, much remains to be discovered.” He does know that the outcomes of fights have an effect on the brain chemistry of lobsters. “We don’t know how, but the business of being beaten clearly has a dramatic effect on the life of a lobster,” Kravitz said. “After a fight, one becomes dominant, the other subordinate. … After a half hour of fighting in lobsters, animals can remember for up to a week who is a winner and who is a loser ….”