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Pervasive gene expression responses to a fluctuating diet in Drosophila melanogaster: The importance of measuring multiple traits to decouple potential mediators of life span and reproduction

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Joost Van Den Heuvel, Emeritus Professor Thomas Kirkwood, Dr Daryl Shanley


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© 2017 The Author(s). Evolution © 2017 The Society for the Study of Evolution. Phenotypic plasticity is an important concept in life-history evolution, and most organisms, including Drosophila melanogaster, show a plastic life-history response to diet. However, little is known about how these life-history responses are mediated. In this study, we compared adult female flies fed an alternating diet (yoyo flies) with flies fed a constant low (CL) or high (CH) diet and tested how whole genome expression was affected by these diet regimes and how the transcriptional responses related to different life-history traits. We showed that flies were able to respond quickly to diet fluctuations throughout life span by drastically changing their transcription. Importantly, by measuring the response of multiple life-history traits we were able to decouple groups of genes associated with life span or reproduction, life-history traits that often covary with a diet change. A coexpression network analysis uncovered which genes underpin the separate and shared regulation of these life-history traits. Our study provides essential insights to help unravel the genetic architecture mediating life-history responses to diet, and it shows that the flies’ whole genome transcription response is highly plastic.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zandveld J, van den Heuvel J, Mulder M, Brakefield PM, Kirkwood TBL, Shanley DP, Zwaan BJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Evolution

Year: 2017

Volume: 71

Issue: 11

Pages: 2572-2583

Print publication date: 01/11/2017

Online publication date: 21/08/2017

Acceptance date: 03/08/2017

ISSN (print): 0014-3820

ISSN (electronic): 1558-5646

Publisher: Society for the Study of Evolution


DOI: 10.1111/evo.13327


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