While the flies initially prefer food with a sweet flavour, they quickly learn to opt for less sweet food sources that offer more calories and nutritional value, according to new research by University of British Columbia zoologists.
The findings, published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, are the first to measure the shift in food preference over time, and the first to find that flies opt for nutritious food more quickly when they're hungry.
NB: A high resolution, close up photo of a fruit fly feeding on a strawberry is available at: http://science.ubc.ca/fly_strawberry_Mike_Gordon_UBC.jpg.
"The taste system is important for quick – often life and death – decisions about what to eat," says Michael Gordon, a UBC neurobiologist and senior author on the paper. "Typically the initial taste of sugar indicates a good source of carbohydrates, but longer-term feeding preferences integrate past experiences and learning. It appears that nutritional content is an important part of that."
"From a behavioural standpoint, it seems that mammals and flies can show similar responses to calorie sensing," adds Gordon, an assistant professor with the Department of Zoology. "But mechanistically we're still only beginning to understand how either senses the caloric value of food independently of taste after eating it."
The researchers allowed fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) to choose between sources of liquid sugar that varied in their ratios of sweetness to caloric value. In some instances it took the populations of flies as little as four hours to shift their preference towards more nutritious food sources – typically based on sugars like sucrose, maltose and D-glucose.
Researchers also isolated several molecular pathways in a strain of flies that appear to affect taste and feeding preference and found that blocking insulin signaling increased preference for nutritious sugars.
BACKGROUND | Fruit flies opt for nutrition
Research MethodIn addition to observing food preferences, the UBC research team also used mutant strains of fruit flies to isolate several molecular pathways that appear to affect taste and feeding preference. They found that developing a preference for caloric sugars depends on the cAMP pathway, which plays a wide array of roles in the nervous system but is best known for affecting learning and memory.
The research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Photo: Fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) feeding on a strawberry. Credit: Michael Gordon, the University of British Columbia.
Chris Balma | EurekAlert!
New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News