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For decades, numerous researchers have documented the presence of the fruit fly or Drosophila melanogaster on alcohol-containing food sources. Although fruit flies are a common laboratory model organism of choice, there is relatively little understood about the ethological relationship between flies and ethanol. In this study, we find that when male flies inhabit ethanol-containing food substrates they become more aggressive. We identify a possible mechanism for this behavior. The odor of ethanol potentiates the activity of sensory neurons in response to an aggression-promoting pheromone. Finally, we observed that the odor of ethanol also promotes attraction to a food-related citrus odor. Understanding how flies interact with the complex natural environment they inhabit can provide valuable insight into how different natural stimuli are integrated to promote fundamental behaviors.

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D. melanogaster, cis-vaccenyl acetate, complex environment, neuroscience, odor mixture, or67d, social behavior, Aggression, Animals, Behavior, Animal, Drosophila melanogaster, Ethanol, Female, Male, Odorants, Pheromones