Drosophila melanogaster females prioritise dietary sterols for producing viable eggs

Brooke Zanco, Lisa Rapley, Joshua N. Johnstone, Amy Dedman, Christen K. Mirth, Carla M. Sgrò, Matthew D.W. Piper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Limiting calories or specific nutrients without malnutrition, otherwise known as dietary restriction (DR), has been shown to extend lifespan and reduce reproduction across a broad range of taxa. Our recent findings in Drosophila melanogaster show that supplementing flies on macronutrient-rich diets with additional cholesterol can extend lifespan to the same extent as DR, while also sustaining high egg production. Thus, DR may be beneficial for lifespan because it reduces egg production which in turn reduces the mother's demand for sterols, thus supporting longer lifespan. It is also possible that mothers live longer and lay more eggs on high sterol diets because the diet triggers enhanced somatic maintenance and promotes egg production, but at the cost of diminished egg quality. To test this, we measured the viability of eggs and development of offspring from mothers fed either cholesterol-sufficient or cholesterol-limiting diets. We found that even when the mother's diet was completely devoid of cholesterol, viable egg production persisted for ∼10 days. Furthermore, we show that sterol-supplemented flies with long lives lay eggs that have high viability and the same developmental potential as those laid by shorter lived mothers on sterol limiting diets. These findings suggest that offspring viability is not a hidden cost of lifespan extension seen in response to dietary sterol supplementation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104472
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • DR
  • Lifespan
  • Nutrition
  • Reproduction
  • Resource-allocation
  • Sterols

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