Energy budget of Drosophila embryogenesis

Curr Biol. 2019 Jun 17;29(12):R566-R567. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.05.025.


Eggs of oviparous animals must be prepared to develop rapidly and robustly until hatching. The balance between sugars, fats, and other macromolecules must therefore be carefully considered when loading the egg with nutrients. Clearly, packing too much or too little fuel would lead to suboptimal conditions for development. While many studies have measured the overall energy utilization of embryos, little is known of the identity of the molecular-level processes that contribute to the energy budget in the first place [1]. Here, we introduce Drosophila embryos as a platform to study the energy budget of embryogenesis. We demonstrate through three orthogonal measurements - respiration, calorimetry, and biochemical assays - that Drosophila melanogaster embryogenesis utilizes 10 mJ of energy generated by the oxidation of the maternal glycogen and triacylglycerol (TAG) stores (Figure 1). Normalized for mass, this is comparable to the resting metabolic rates of insects [2]. Interestingly, alongside data from earlier studies, our results imply that protein, RNA, and DNA polymerization require less than 10% of the total ATPs produced in the early embryo.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calorimetry
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism*
  • Embryonic Development*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Respiration