prof. dr. J.C. (Jean-Christophe) Billeter

Associate professor Neurogenetics of social and sexual behaviour


Research units:

Research interests


We are interested in understanding the mechanisms through which genetic and environmental factors influence behaviour. To this end we study social behaviours in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, whose organization shows a strong interplay between genetics and both biotic and abiotic environmental factors. Our main line of research evolves around the mechanisms that allow individuals to integrate social and environmental cues to make reproductive decisions. These decisions include partner choice, level of sexual promiscuity, and offspring production in changing environments.  We seek to answer these questions at the molecular and cellular level, but are also interested in the implications that genetic variation and adaptation to environmental conditions have on the evolution of social behaviours and mating systems.

Our choice of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as our experimental model is based on the availability of advanced genetic manipulations allowing the study of the function of genes and cells in live behaving individuals. We take a neurogenetics approach characterized by the use of forward, reverse and quantitative genetics to isolate genes that influence social behaviours. We then use these genes as a gateway to the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying social behaviours. For this we use a range of techniques including: molecular genetics such as gene cloning and transgenesis to manipulate gene expression and cellular physiology, analytical chemistry (e.g.Gas chromatography) to study small chemicals acting as social (e.g. pheromones) and environmental (e.g. food) cues, confocal microscopy for studies of gene expression on both fixed and live tissues, and behavioral paradigms to study social behaviours in groups.

  1. Last male sperm precedence is modulated by female remating rate in Drosophila melanogaster

    Laturney, M., van Eijk, R. & Billeter, J-C. Jun-2018 In : Evolution Letters. 2, 3, p. 180-189 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

  2. Chemical cues that guide female reproduction in Drosophila melanogaster

    Billeter, J-C. & Wolfner, M. F. Sep-2018 In : Journal of Chemical Ecology. 44, 9, p. 750-769 20 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  3. A method to test the effect of environmental cues on mating behavior in Drosophila melanogaster

    Gorter, J. A. & Billeter, J-C. 17-Jul-2017 In : Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 125, p. e55690 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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  1. 2018 Insect reproductive molecules meeting

    Billeter, J. (Organiser)

    Activity: ScientificParticipation in conference

  2. What can a silly little fly tell you about life and sex?

    Billeter, J. (Invited speaker)

    Activity: ProfessionalTalk or presentation

  3. La vie sociale ne s'arrête pas à l'humanité!

    Billeter, J. (Invited speaker)

    Activity: ProfessionalTalk or presentation

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Press / Media
  1. Brains, not biochemistry, speed up hot flies

    Jean-Christophe Billeter


    1 item of media coverage

    Press/Media: Research

  2. All hail the fruit fly

    Jean-Christophe Billeter


    1 media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

  3. Journal Club: Female flies fight back against mate-guarding by males

    Jean-Christophe Billeter & Meghan Laturney


    1 item of media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

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