Male brains are wired to choose sex over food, new scientific research suggests.
Researchers observing a species of microscopic roundworms called C.elegans found that male worms given the choice between looking for food and finding a mate tended to choose the latter.
The same findings were not present in the hermaphrodite organisms studied – the species has no female sex.
Some of the male worms observed were genetically engineered to be more sensitive to food. Researchers found that these ‘hungrier’ worms were ten times less successful at mating as they wanted to stay near the source of food.
The authors of the study say they believe male worms were more able to suppress their hunger in order to go out and find a mate.
Assistant Professor Douglas Portman from the University of Rochester, who was involving in conducting the study, said the findings shed new light on genetic difference between sexes.
“These findings show that by tuning the properties of a single cell, we can change behaviour,” he said.
“This adds to a growing body of evidence that sex-specific regulation of gene expression may play an important role in neural plasticity and, consequently, influence differences in behaviours - and in disease susceptibility - between the sexes.“
Although the study did not involve humans, many previous discoveries made by observing C. elegans apply throughout other animals.
Scientific findings based on the species behaviour are generally thought to be particularly applicable in neuroscience.
The study was published in the scientific journal Current Biology.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies