From grapes and bananas to “popping cherries” and “buttering muffins,” food has long been associated with sex. This association may be biological in nature, as research has found that this relationship is not just unique to humans. But finding the direct chemical switch connecting eating and mating has been elusive.
Now, a group of researchers from the University of California San Diego believes that they might have found this chemical switch, and in a surprising location: within the guts of fruit flies.
BACKGROUND: FIRST EATING AND THEN…
Holidays like Valentine’s Day or an anniversary often conflate love with food. From giving a woman chocolate to booking a romantic dinner, our society connects eating with passion. Science shows that humans are not the only organisms that do this as other animals offer food (sometimes their own bodies) to their mates before mating. Male bonobos, for example, often give a “nuptial gift” to a female before copulation. This gift may take the form of food. Similarly, the male great gray shrike bird builds up a store or “larder” of food to show off to a potential mate before she picks him. Due to their survival instincts, many females pick males with the best food offering, before copulating with them.