• Open Access

Juvenile diet restriction and the aging and reproduction of adult Drosophila melanogaster


Marc Tatar, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Box G-W, Brown University, Providence, RI 02192, USA. Tel.: +1 401 863 3455; fax: +1 401 863 2166; e-mail: Marc_Tatar@Brown.edu


Mutations of the insulin signal pathway in Drosophila melanogaster produce long-lived adults with many correlated phenotypes. Homozygotes of insulin-like receptor (InR) and insulin-like receptor substrate (chico) delay time to eclosion, reduce body size, decrease reproduction and increase life span. Because these mutations are expressed through all life stages it is unclear when insulin signals must be reduced to increase life span. As a first analysis of this problem in D. melanogaster we have manipulated the larval diet to determine if changes in metabolic regulation at this stage are sufficient to slow aging. We controlled the dietary yeast fed to third instar larvae and studied the size, mortality, fecundity and hormones of the resulting adults, which were fed a normal, yeast-replete diet. Adults from yeast-deprived larvae phenocopied many traits of InR and chico mutants: small body size, delayed eclosion, reduced ovariole number and reduced age-specific fecundity. But unlike constitutive mutants of the insulin/IGF system, adults from yeast-deprived larvae had normal patterns of demographic senescence, and this was accompanied by normal insulin-like peptide and juvenile hormone syntheses. Surprisingly, the normal aging in these adults was also associated with greatly reduced fecundity. Although nutritional conditions of the larvae can affect the subsequent body size and fecundity of adults, these are not sufficient to slow aging.