Testing evolutionary explanations for the lifespan benefit of dietary restriction in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster)

Eevi Savola, Clara Montgomery, Ferghal Waldron, Katy M. Monteith, Pedro Ferreira Do Vale, Craig A Walling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Dietary restriction (DR), limiting calories or specific nutrients without malnutrition, extends lifespan across diverse taxa. Traditionally, this lifespan extension has been explained as a result of diet‐mediated changes in the trade‐off between lifespan and reproduction, with survival favoured when resources are scarce. However, a recently proposed alternative suggests that the selective benefit of the response to DR is the maintenance of reproduction. This hypothesis predicts that lifespan extension is a side effect of benign laboratory conditions, and DR individuals would be frailer and unable to deal with additional stressors, and thus lifespan extension should disappear under more stressful conditions. We tested this by rearing outbred female fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) on 10 different protein:carbohydrate diets. Flies were either infected with a bacterial pathogen (Pseudomonas entomophila), injured with a sterile pinprick or unstressed. We monitored lifespan, fecundity and measures of ageing. DR extended lifespan and reduced reproduction irrespective of injury and infection. Infected flies on lower protein diets had particularly poor survival. Exposure to infection and injury did not substantially alter the relationship between diet and ageing patterns. These results do not provide support for lifespan extension under DR being a side effect of benign laboratory conditions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEvolution: International Journal of Organic Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • dietary restriction
  • infection
  • bacteria
  • diet
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • ageing


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