Since its discovery by Morgan, the Drosophila white gene has become one of the most intensely studied genes and has been widely used as a genetic marker. Earlier reports that over- and misexpression of White protein in Drosophila males leads to male-male courtship implicated white in courtship control. While previous studies suggested that it is the mislocalization of White protein within cells that causes the courtship phenotype, we demonstrate here that also the lack of extra-retinal White can cause very similar behavioral changes. Moreover, we provide evidence that the lack of White function increases the sexual arousal of males in general, of which the enhanced male-male courtship might be an indirect effect. We further show that white mutant flies are not only optomotor blind but also dazzled by the over-flow of light in daylight. Implications of these findings for the proper interpretation of behavioral studies with white mutant flies are discussed.
Krstic, D., Boll, W., & Noll, M. (2013). Influence of the White locus on the courtship behavior of Drosophila males. PloS One, 8(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0077904