Pre-copulatory reproductive behaviours are preserved in Drosophila melanogaster infected with bacteria

Saloni Rose, Esteban J. Beckwith, Charlotte Burmester, Robin C. May, Marc S. Dionne, Carolina Rezaval

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The activation of the immune system upon infection exerts a huge energetic demand on an individual, likely decreasing available resources for other vital processes, like reproduction. The factors that determine the trade-off between defensive and reproductive traits remain poorly understood. Here, we exploit the experimental tractability of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to systematically assess the impact of immune system activation on pre-copulatory reproductive behaviour. Contrary to expectations, we found that male flies undergoing an immune activation continue to display high levels of courtship and mating success. Similarly, immune-challenged female flies remain highly sexually receptive. By combining behavioural paradigms, a diverse panel of pathogens and genetic strategies to induce the fly immune system, we show that pre-copulatory reproductive behaviours are preserved in infected flies, despite the significant metabolic cost of infection.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20220492
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1974
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2022


  • courtship
  • reproduction and immunity trade-off
  • Drosophila
  • reproductive behaviours
  • bacterial infection


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