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Sci Rep. 2015 Sep 24;5:14285. doi: 10.1038/srep14285.

Starvation-Induced Dietary Behaviour in Drosophila melanogaster Larvae and Adults.

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Department of Biology, SBA School of Science and Engineering, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Sector-U, DHA, Lahore, 54792, Pakistan.


Drosophila melanogaster larvae are classified as herbivores and known to feed on non-carnivorous diet under normal conditions. However, when nutritionally challenged these larvae exhibit cannibalistic behaviour by consuming a diet composed of larger conspecifics. Herein, we report that cannibalism in Drosophila larvae is confined not only to scavenging on conspecifics that are larger in size, but also on their eggs. Moreover, such cannibalistic larvae develop as normally as those grown on standard cornmeal medium. When stressed, Drosophila melanogaster larvae can also consume a carnivorous diet derived from carcasses of organisms belonging to diverse taxonomic groups, including Musca domestica, Apis mellifera, and Lycosidae sp. While adults are ill-equipped to devour conspecific carcasses, they selectively oviposit on them and also consume damaged cadavers of conspecifics. Thus, our results suggest that nutritionally stressed Drosophila show distinct as well as unusual feeding behaviours that can be classified as detritivorous, cannibalistic and/or carnivorous.

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