Friday, February 15, 2008

To live long, or to reproduce often: what's a fruitfly to eat?

High levels of protein are good for egg-laying rate but not for longevity. When given a choice the flies go for an intermediate protein to carbohydrate ratio that optimizes their lifetime egg production.

Lifespan and reproduction in Drosophila: New insights from nutritional geometry
Kwang Pum Lee, Stephen J. Simpson, Fiona J. Clissold, Robert Brooks, J. William O. Ballard, Phil W. Taylor, Nazaneen Soran, and David Raubenheimer
PNAS Published online on February 11, 2008
Abstract Modest dietary restriction (DR) prolongs life in a wide range of organisms, spanning single-celled yeast to mammals. Here, we report the use of recent techniques in nutrition research to quantify the detailed relationship between diet, nutrient intake, lifespan, and reproduction in Drosophila melanogaster. Caloric restriction (CR) was not responsible for extending lifespan in our experimental flies. Response surfaces for lifespan and fecundity were maximized at different protein–carbohydrate intakes, with longevity highest at a protein-to-carbohydrate ratio of 1:16 and egg-laying rate maximized at 1:2. Lifetime egg production, the measure closest to fitness, was maximized at an intermediate P:C ratio of 1:4. Flies offered a choice of complementary foods regulated intake to maximize lifetime egg production. The results indicate a role for both direct costs of reproduction and other deleterious consequences of ingesting high levels of protein. We unite a body of apparently conflicting work within a common framework and provide a platform for studying aging in all organisms.

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