Gut microorganisms are essential for the nutritional health of many animals, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. This study investigated how lipid accumulation by adult Drosophila melanogaster is reduced in flies associated with the bacterium Acetobacter tropicalis which displays oral-faecal cycling between the gut and food. We demonstrate that the lower lipid content of A. tropicalis-colonized flies relative to bacteria-free flies is linked with a parallel bacterial-mediated reduction in food glucose content; and can be accounted for quantitatively by the amount of glucose acquired by the flies, as determined from the feeding rate and assimilation efficiency of bacteria-free and A. tropicalis-colonized flies. We recommend that nutritional studies on Drosophila include empirical quantification of food nutrient content, to account for likely microbial-mediated effects on diet composition. More broadly, this study demonstrates that selective consumption of dietary constituents by microorganisms can alter the nutritional balance of food and, thereby, influence the nutritional status of the animal host.
Keywords: Acetobacter; Drosophila; gut microbiota; sugar utilization; symbiosis.
© 2015 The Author(s).