Claude Wicker-Thomas

The pheromonal communication in the drosophila

Phone. 01 69 82 37 08
Fax 33 1 69 82 37 36

Research Topics

In  Drosophila, a courtship precedes the coupling; pheromones situated on the cuticle have a very important role in this behavior of court and would play an important role in the speciation. Two twin species, Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans , have very different pheromonal systems, with the presence of a sexual pheromonal dimorphisme to only the first species. We characterized the main genes of pheromones’ biosynthesis to these two species. We propose the fine study of their regulation by using at the same time biochemical methods (chromatography in gas phase), genetics (RNAi), behavioral (court) and molecular (level of genes expression, the analysis of the promoters) to study the evolution of this regulation. This study should allow to understand better the place of pheromones in the reproductive success, the role of hormones (ecdysone, young hormone), neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin) in their control and the evolution of this control.


Fumey, J. & C. Wicker-Thomas (2017) Mutations at the Darkener of Apricot locus modulate pheromone production and sex behavior in Drosophila melanogaster. Journal of Insect Physiology, 98, 182-187. 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2017.01.005.

Denis, B., G. Claisse, A. Le Rouzic, C. Wicker-Thomas, G. Lepennetier & D. Joly (2017) Male accessory gland proteins affect differentially female sexual receptivity and remating in closely related Drosophila species. Journal of Insect Physiology, 99, 67-77. 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2017.03.008.

Wicker-Thomas, C., Garrido D., Bontonou, G., Napal L., Mazuras N., Denis, B., Rubin T., Parvy J.P., Montagne J. 2015 Flexible origin of hydrocarbon/pheromone precursors in Drosophila melanogaster. J. Lipid Res. 56, 2094-2101.

Denis, B., Le Rouzic A.,Wicker-Thomas, C. 2015 Hydorcarbon patterns and mating behaviour  in populations of Drosophila yakuba. Insects, 6, 897-911.

Bontonou, G.,Shaik, H.A., Denis, B., Wicker-Thomas, C. 2015 Acp70A regulates Drosophila pheromones through juvenile hormone induction. Insect Biochem. Molec. Biol. 56, 36-49.

Bontonou, G.,Wicker-Thomas, C. 2014 Sexual communication in the Drosophila genus. Insects, 5, 439-458.

Bontonou G., Denis B., Wicker-Thomas C. 2013 Interaction between temperature and male pheromone in sexual isolation in Drosophila melanogaster. J. Evol. Biol., 26, 2008-2020.

Qiu Y., Tittiger C., Wicker-Thomas C., Le Goff G., Younga S., Wajnberg E., Fricaux T., Taquet N., Blomquist G.J., Feyereisen R. 2012 An insect-specific P450 oxidative decarbonylase for cuticular hydrocarbon biosynthesis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109, 14858-14863.

Ruiz M., Wicker-Thomas C., Sanchez D., Ganfornina M. D. 2012 Grasshopper lazarillo, a GPI-anchored lipocalin, increases Drosophila longevity and stress resistance, and functionally replaces its secreted homologue NLaz. Insect Biochem. Molec. Biol. 42, 776-789.

Bontonou G., Denis B., Wicker-Thomas C. 2012 Male pheromone polymorphism and reproductive isolation in populations of Drosophila simulans. Ecology and Evolution 2, 2527-2536.

Parvy J.P.,  Napal L., Rubin T., Poidevin M., Perrin L., Wicker-Thomas C., Montagne J. 2012 Drosophila acetyl-CoA-carboxylase sustains a fatty acid-dependent remote signal to waterproof the respiratory system. PLOS Genet. 8,e1002925.

Veltsos P., Wicker-Thomas C., Butlin R., Hoikkala A., & Ritchie M. G. 2012 Sexual selection on song and cuticular hydrocarbons in two distinct populations of Drosophila montana. Ecology and Evolution 2, 80-94.

Wicker-Thomas C. 2012 Signaux chimiques, adaptation et spéciation (Chapitre 23). In« ODORAT et GOUT : de la neurobiologie des sens chimiques aux applications agronomiques, industrielles et médicales », Eds  R. Salesse & R. Gervais, Editions QAE, Versailles, 311-320.

Keays M. C., Barker D., Wicker-Thomas C., Ritchie M. G. 2011 Signatures of selection and sex-specific alternative splicing during the evolution of the Drosophila desaturase gene family. Mol. Ecol. 20, 3617-3630.

Wicker-Thomas C. 2011 Evolution of insect pheromones and their role in reproductive isolation and speciation. Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. 47, 55-62.

Arienti M., Antony A., Wicker-Thomas C., Delbecque J. P., Jallon J. M. 2010 Ontogeny of D. melanogaster female sex-appeal and cuticular hydrocarbons. Integr. Zool. 5, 272-282.

Wicker-Thomas C., Chertemps T. 2010 Molecular biology and genetics of hydrocarbon production. (Chapter 4). In “Insect hydrocarbons : biology, chemistry and chemical ecology ”, Eds G. J. Blomquist and A. G. Bagnères , Cambridge University Press,  53-74.

Bagnères, A. G., Wicker-Thomas C. 2010 Chemical taxonomy with hydrocarbons. (Chapter 7). In “Insect hydrocarbons : biology, chemistry and chemical ecology ”, Eds G. J. Blomquist and A. G. Bagnères , Cambridge University Press,  121-162.

Hefetz, A., Wicker-Thomas C.,  Bagnères, A. G. 2010 New areas of research on insect hydrocarbons and conclusion. (Chapter 20). In “Insect hydrocarbons : biology, chemistry and chemical ecology ”, Eds G. J. Blomquist and A. G. Bagnères ,Cambridge University Press,  477-485.

Gleason J. M., James R. A., Wicker-Thomas C., Ritchie M. G. 2009 Identification of quantitative trait loci function through analysis of multiple cuticular hydrocarbons differing between Drosophila simulans and D. sechellia females. Heredity 103, 416-424.

Wicker-Thomas C, Guenachi I, Keita Y. F. 2009 Contribution of oenocytes and pheromones to courtship behaviour in Drosophila. BMC Biochem. Aug 11;10:21.

Legendre A., Miao X. X., Da Lage J. L., Wicker-Thomas C. 2008 Evolution of a desaturase involved in female cuticular hydrocarbon biosynthesis and courtship behaviour in Drosophila. Insect Biochem. Molec. Biol. 38, 244-253.

Wicker-Thomas C., Hamann M. 2008 Interaction of dopamine, female pheromones, locomotion and sex behaviour in Drosophila melanogaster. J. Insect Physiol.. 54, 1423-1431.

Chertemps T., Duportets L., Labeur C., Ueda R., Takahashi K., Saigo K., Wicker-Thomas C. 2007 A female-biased expressed elongase involved in long-chain hydrocarbon biosynthesis and courtship behavior in Drosophila melanogaster. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA.104, 4273-4278.

Wicker-Thomas C. 2007 Review. Pheromonal communication involved in courtship behaviour in Diptera. J. Insect Physiol. 53, 1089-1100.

Chertemps T., Duportets L., Labeur C., Ueyama M., Wicker-Thomas C. 2006 A female specific desaturase gene responsible for diene hydrocarbon biosynthesis and courtship behavior in D. melanogaster. Insect Mol. Biol. 15, 465-473.

Ueyama M., Chertemps T., Labeur C., Wicker-Thomas C. 2005 Mutations in the desat1 gene reduces the production of courtship stimulatory pheromones through a marked effect on fatty acids in Drosophila melanogaster. Insect Biochem. Molec. Biol. 35, 911-920.

Chertemps T., Duportets L., Labeur C., Wicker-Thomas C. 2005 A new elongase selectively expressed in Drosophila male reproductive system. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 333, 1066-1072.

Rouault J. D., Marican C., Wicker-Thomas C., Jallon J. M. 2004  Relations between cuticular hydrocarbon (HC) polymorphism, resistance against desiccation and breeding temperature: a model for HC evolution in D. melanogaster and D. simulans. Genetica 120, 195-212.

Jallon J. M., Wicker-Thomas C. 2003 Genetic studies on pheromone production in Drosophila. (Chapter 9). In “Insect Pheromone Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Part 1. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of pheromone production”, Eds G. J. Blomquist and G. Vogt , pp253-281.

Labeur C., Dallerac R., Wicker-Thomas C. 2002 Involvement of desat1 gene in the control of Drosophila melanogaster pheromone biosynthesis. Genetica 114, 269-274.

Wicker-Thomas C., Jallon J. M. 2001 Control of female pheromones in Drosophila melanogaster by homeotic genes. Genet. Res.78, 235-242.

Wicker-Thomas C., Jallon J. M.  2000  Role of Enhancer of zeste on the production of Drosophila melanogaster pheromonal hydrocarbons. Naturwissenschaften. 87, 76-79.

Dallerac R., Labeur C., Jallon J. M., Knipple D. C., Roelofs W.L., Wicker-Thomas C. 2000 A  D9 desaturase gene with a different substrate specificity is responsible for the cuticular diene hydrocarbon polymorphism in Drosophila  melanogaster. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 97, 9449-9454.

Coyne J. A., Wicker-Thomas C., Jallon J. M.  1999  A gene responsible for a cuticular hydrocarbon  polymorphism in Drosophila melanogaster. Genet. Res., 73, 189-203.

Wicker-Thomas C., Henriet C., Dallerac R.  1997  Partial characterization of a fatty acid desaturase gene in Drosophila melanogaster. Insect Biochem. Molec. Biol. 27, 963-972.

Wicker C., Jallon J. M.  1995  Hormonal control of sex pheromone biosynthesis in Drosophila melanogaster. J. Insect Physiol 41, 65-70.

Wicker C., Jallon J. M.  1995  Influence of ovary and ecdysteroids on pheromone biosynthesis in Drosophila melanogaster (Diptera: Drosophilidae). Eur. J. Entomol. 92, 197-202.

El Messoussi S., Wicker C., Arienti M., Carlson D.A., Jallon J. M.  1994  Hydrocarbons in species recognition in insects.  In « Identification and characterization of pest organisms », Eds D. Hawskworth, CABI Press, London, pp. 277-287.