Edinburgh Research Explorer

Terminal investment strategies following infection are dependent on diet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Early online date9 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Nov 2019


When future reproductive potential is threatened, for example following infection, the terminal investment hypothesis predicts that individuals will respond by investing preferentially in current reproduction. Terminal investment involves reallocating resources to current reproductive effort, so it is likely to be influenced by the quantity and quality of resources acquired through diet. Dietary protein specifically has been shown to impact both immunity and reproduction in a range of organisms, but its impact on terminal investment is unclear. We challenged females from ten naturally‐derived fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) genotypes with the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We then placed these on either a standard or isocaloric high protein diet, and measured multiple components of reproductive investment. As oogenesis requires protein, and flies increase egg production with protein intake, we hypothesized that terminal investment would be easier to observe if protein was not already limiting. Oral exposure to the pathogen triggered an increase in reproductive investment. However, while flies feeding on a high protein diet increased the number of eggs laid when exposed to P. aeruginosa, those fed the standard diet did not increase the number of eggs laid but increased egg‐to‐adult viability following infection. This suggests that the specific routes through which flies terminally invest are influenced by the protein content of the maternal diet. We discuss the importance of considering diet and natural routes of infection when measuring non‐immunological defences.

    Research areas

  • dietary protein, Drosophila melanogaster, fecundity compensation, non‐immunological defence, oral infection, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, terminal investment

ID: 119841419