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, 9 (3), e92352

Transient and Permanent Experience With Fatty Acids Changes Drosophila Melanogaster Preference and Fitness


Transient and Permanent Experience With Fatty Acids Changes Drosophila Melanogaster Preference and Fitness

Justin Flaven-Pouchon et al. PLoS One.


Food and host-preference relies on genetic adaptation and sensory experience. In vertebrates, experience with food-related cues during early development can change adult preference. This is also true in holometabolous insects, which undergo a drastic nervous system remodelling during their complete metamorphosis, but remains uncertain in Drosophila melanogaster. We have conditioned D. melanogaster with oleic (C18:1) and stearic (C18:0) acids, two common dietary fatty acids, respectively preferred by larvae and adult. Wild-type individuals exposed either during a transient period of development-from embryo to adult-or more permanently-during one to ten generation cycles-were affected by such conditioning. In particular, the oviposition preference of females exposed to each fatty acid during larval development was affected without cross-effect indicating the specificity of each substance. Permanent exposure to each fatty acid also drastically changed oviposition preference as well as major fitness traits (development duration, sex-ratio, fecundity, adult lethality). This suggests that D. melanogaster ability to adapt to new food sources is determined by its genetic and sensory plasticity both of which may explain the success of this generalist-diet species.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Experimental procedures.
Representation of the schematic procedure used for transient exposure (top) and permanent exposure (bottom) to fatty acids and the principal phenotypes to measure the effect of exposure (Oviposition preference in a dual-choice test; Fecundity; Adult mortality; Development duration). The blue colour represent the exposure period on the fatty acid (FA); the white colour is the period on standard food (Std). Transient exposure was performed during different developmental phases (indicated on the left side; see also Material and methods; E = embryo, L1, L2 & L3 = 1st, 2nd & 3rd larval instar). * corresponds to the exposure period used for the cross-conditioned experiment. For permanent exposure, individuals were either (i) kept on the FA during one generation (F1), (ii) 10 generations (F10), or (iii) 9 generations and returned on standard food for the 10th generation (F10-Std).
Figure 2
Figure 2. Exposure to fatty acids during critical periods specifically changes oviposition behaviour.
Coloured bars indicate the distribution of oviposition response in females tested to each fatty acid (Test: C18∶0 = yellow; C18∶1 = purple) after various exposures to these substances (Exposure: same colour code, under the bars). White bars indicate the response of control naïve lines exposed to standard food and tested simultaneously with experimental lines. Exposure periods correspond to (a) larval+pupal+adult development (L+P+A), larval development (L), or adult life (A), to (b) each larval stage (L1, L2, L3), or two periods of adult life (0–24 h, 24–96 h). For cross-conditioning experiment (c), «L+P+A-exposed» individuals were tested to both FAs. Data are represented both with their mean (open circles) ± SEM (error bars) and by box-and-whisker plots (the bars represent the first and third quartiles (Q1 and Q3) with the horizontal line inside the bar indicating the median value; the whiskers (vertical line on both sides of the bar) indicate the limits beyond which values are considered anomalous – limits were calculated as follows: lower limit = Q1–1.5×[Q3– Q1] and upper limit = Q1 = 1.5×[Q3– Q1]). For each panel, differences were assessed with a Kruskal-Wallis test (letters indicate significant differences at level p = 0.05). N = 18–20 (a), 18–37 (b), 22–28 (c).
Figure 3
Figure 3. Effect of permanent exposure on oviposition preference and fecundity.
Oviposition preference (a) and fecundity (b) of lines exposed to FA-rich food during one generation (F1), 10 generations (F10), or 9 generations+the 10th generation on standard food (F10-Std). (a) For oviposition response, see legend of Figure 2 (N = 10–25). (b) Fecundity was measured in flies (females and males mixed) similarly exposed. The daily number of eggs (noted between days 1 to 5; corresponding to the female age) was cumulated. Letters indicate significant differences (p = 0.05) for the «exposure X test» variable (ANCOVA; F(7,517df) = 137.52; p<0.0001; N = 14–16).
Figure 4
Figure 4. Effect of permanent exposure on preimaginal development, sex-ratio and adult lifespan.
(a) The box-and-whisker plots show the Developmental Time 50 (DT50; computed on groups of 50 individuals), corresponding to the period of time required for 50% individual embryos to reach either pupation (embryo-to-pupa; left) or adult eclosion (embryo-to-adult) in females (center) and males (right; N = 10/experiment). (b) The plots represent the sex-ratio (females/males) in third instar larvae (Larva, left) and in adult progeny (Adult, right) of exposed lines (N = 9–25). (c) The plots indicate the cumulative mortality after 22 days of adult life in females (left) and males (right; N = 10/experiment). For all experiments, the exposure and test conditions are indicated below each graph. For more information and statistics, refer to Figure 2.

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Grant support

This work was funded in part by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (INSB), the Burgundy Regional Council (PARI), and the French Ministry of Research and Higher Education. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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