Unravelling the diversity of mechanisms through which nutrition regulates body size in insects

Takashi Koyama, Christen K. Mirth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Insects show impressive diversity in adult body size across species, and within species adult body size is sensitive to numerous environmental conditions, particularly to changes in nutrition. Body size in adult insects correlates with a number of important fitness-related traits such as fecundity, longevity, stress resistance, and mating success. Over the past few decades, the field of insect body size regulation has made impressive progress towards understanding the signalling pathways that regulate body size in response to nutrition. These studies have shown that conserved nutrition-sensitive signalling pathways act in animals from insects to vertebrates to regulate growth. In particular, pathways like the insulin/insulin-like growth factor signalling (IIS) pathway and the Target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway respond to the levels of dietary nutrients to adjust both the rate of growth and the duration of the growth period. They do this not only by regulating organ growth, but also by modifying the rates of synthesis and circulating concentrations of key developmental hormones. Although the mechanisms through which this occurs have been well documented in one insect, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, it is becoming increasingly clear that the downstream mechanisms through which IIS and TOR signalling alter size in response to nutrition differ between organs and across species. In this review, we highlight how understanding the organ-specific effects of IIS/TOR signalling are key to revealing the diversity of size control mechanisms across insects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Insect Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

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