Sex-specific transcriptomic responses to changes in the nutritional environment

M. Florencia Camus, Matthew D W Piper, Max Reuter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Males and females typically pursue divergent reproductive strategies and accordingly require different dietary compositions to maximise their fitness. Here we move from identifying sex-specific optimal diets to understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie male and female responses to dietary variation in Drosophila melanogaster. We examine male and female gene expression on male-optimal (carbohydrate-rich) and female-optimal (protein-rich) diets. We find that the sexes share a large core of metabolic genes that are concordantly regulated in response to dietary composition. However, we also observe smaller sets of genes with divergent and opposing regulation, most notably in reproductive genes which are over-expressed on each sex's optimal diet. Our results suggest that nutrient sensing output emanating from a shared metabolic machinery are reversed in males and females, leading to opposing diet-dependent regulation of reproduction in males and females. Further analysis and experiments suggest that this reverse regulation occurs within the IIS/TOR network.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere47262
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2019


  • D. melanogaster
  • evolutionary biology
  • gene expression
  • genetics
  • genomics
  • nutrition
  • reproduction
  • RNASeq
  • sex differences

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