Acetic acid is a fermentation product of many microorganisms, including some that inhabit the food and guts of Drosophila. Here, we investigated the effect of dietary acetic acid on oviposition and larval performance of Drosophila. At all concentrations tested (0.34-3.4%), acetic acid promoted egg deposition by mated females in no-choice assays; and females preferred to oviposit on diet with acetic acid relative to acetic acid-free diet. However, acetic acid depressed larval performance, particularly extending the development time of both larvae colonized with the bacterium Acetobacter pomorum and axenic (microbe-free) larvae. The larvae may incur an energetic cost associated with dissipating the high acid load on acetic acid-supplemented diets. This effect was compounded by suppressed population growth of A. pomorum on the 3.4% acetic acid diet, such that the gnotobiotic Drosophila on this diet displayed traits characteristic of axenic Drosophila, specifically reduced developmental rate and elevated lipid content. It is concluded that acetic acid is deleterious to larval Drosophila, and hypothesized that acetic acid may function as a reliable cue for females to oviposit in substrates bearing microbial communities that promote larval nutrition.
Keywords: Acetic acid; Acid load; Drosophila; Fermentation products; Gut microbiota; Larval development; Microbiome.
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