An important role of the insect cuticle is to prevent wetting (i.e., permeation of water) and also to prevent penetration of potentially harmful substances. This barrier function mainly depends on the hydrophobic cuticle surface composed of lipids including cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs). We investigated to what extent the cuticle inward barrier function depends on the genotype, comprising mitochondrial and nuclear genes in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and investigated the contribution of interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear genotypes (mito-nuclear interactions) on this function. In addition, we assessed the effects of nutrition and sex on the cuticle barrier function. Based on a dye penetration assay, we find that cuticle barrier function varies across three fly lines that were captured from geographically separated regions in three continents. Testing different combinations of mito-nuclear genotypes, we show that the inward barrier efficiency is modulated by the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes independently. We also find an interaction between diet and sex. Our findings provide new insights into the regulation of cuticle inward barrier function in nature.
- Sex differences