We have found that the social interaction patterns of flies are reproducible. Given our ability to identify and track individual flies, we have discovered that when 12 flies are placed in a simple arena, they organize themselves into a particular social interaction pattern. The specific pattern varies by fly strain, which suggests that genes contribute to the structure of these interaction networks.
Each group of flies may consist of sub-networks, or subsets of the group that have interaction patterns that give rise to the overall pattern. Flies move from one sub-network to another depending on the flies with whom they are interacting and the structure of the interaction, be it simple proximity, mating or aggression Our lab is currently seeking to identify the genes that contribute to the functioning of these networks and to learn more about life within these social groups.
We are also examining a broad range of dipteran species to gain insight into whether and how group structures are evolving.
Our lab is also developing tests that will help us to assess the flow of information between and among these networks.