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Sexual Frustration in Fruit Flies Linked to Stress, Early death

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Nov 29, 2013 06:57 AM EST
Fruit fly
Sex-deprived fruit flies have shorter lives (Photo : Botaurus/ Wikimedia commons)

Sexual frustration might lead to early death, at least in fruit flies.

A latest study by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and colleagues has found that sex-deprived fruit flies have low resistance to starvation and develop more stress than their peers.

The experts found that genetically tweaked flies that were aroused, but were prevented from having sex had up to 40 percent shorter lives than others, bbc reported.

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Getting more love-making time, on the other hand, helped these flies cope with stressful conditions.

The study was conducted on common fruit flies- Drosophila melanogaster. Some male flies were genetically altered to produce the female pheromones. They also  tweaked the test flies' (the ones that were aroused) genes in such a way that the neurons linked with sex fired rapidly. These altered flies were then placed with normal males.

In other words, test flies were turned-on by the smell of these altered male flies. Researchers then studied the behavior of these confused flies (we assume they had an evil glint in their eyes while conducting the experiment).

The aroused flies developed too much stress and began losing body fat.

"The cutting-edge genetics and neurobiology used in this research suggests to us that for fruit flies at least, it may not be a myth that sexual frustration is a health issue. Expecting sex without any sexual reward was detrimental to their health and cut their lives short," said Scott D. Pletcher, professor in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the U-M Medical School, lead author of the study, according to a news release.

The study is published in the journal Science.

Other research had found that fruit flies, when sexually frustrated, turn to alcohol to self-medicate.

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