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Evolution. 2017 Nov;71(11):2572-2583. doi: 10.1111/evo.13327. Epub 2017 Sep 25.

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.

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Plant Sciences Group, Laboratory of Genetics, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE4 5PL, United Kingdom.
Evolutionary Biology Group, Institute Biology Leiden, Leiden University, Rapenburg 58, 2311 EZ, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Department of Zoology, University Museum of Zoology Cambridge, University of Cambridge, CB2 3EJ Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Center for Healthy Aging, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3B, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark.


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.


Fecundity; gene regulatory networks; life span regulation; phenotypic plasticity; trade-offs

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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