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J Exp Biol. 2013 Mar 1;216(Pt 5):859-68. doi: 10.1242/jeb.078758. Epub 2012 Nov 15.

Dietary composition regulates Drosophila mobility and cardiac physiology.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Geriatrics Division, University of Michigan Medical School, 3013 BSRB, 109 Zina Pitcher Place, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


The impact of dietary composition on exercise capacity is a subject of intense study in both humans and model organisms. Interactions between diet and genetics are a crucial component of optimized dietary design. However, the genetic factors governing exercise response are still not well understood. The recent development of invertebrate models for endurance exercise is likely to facilitate study designs examining the conserved interactions between diet, exercise and genetics. As a first step, we used the Drosophila model to describe the effects of varying dietary composition on several physiological indices, including fatigue tolerance and climbing speed, cardiac performance, lipid storage and autophagy. We found that flies of two divergent genetic backgrounds optimize endurance and cardiac performance on relatively balanced low calorie diets. When flies are provided with unbalanced diets, diets higher in sugar than in yeast facilitate greater endurance at the expense of cardiac performance. Importantly, we found that dietary composition has a profound effect on various physiological indices, whereas total caloric intake per se has very little predictive value for performance. We also found that the effects of diet on endurance are completely reversible within 48 h if flies are switched to a different diet.

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