Starvation resistance is positively correlated with body lipid proportion in five wild caught Drosophila simulans populations

J. William O. Ballard, R. G. Melvin, S. J. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Stress resistance traits in Drosophila often show clinal variation, suggesting that selection affects resistance traits either directly or indirectly. One of the most common causes of stress for animals is the shortage or suboptimal quality of food, and individuals within many species must survive periods of starvation or exposure to nutritionally imbalanced diets. This study determines the relationship between starvation resistance, body lipid content, and lifespan in five recently collected Drosophila simulans populations from four distinct geographic localities. Despite rearing under standard nutritional conditions, we observed significant differences in starvation resistance between sexes and between localities. If body lipid proportion is included as a covariate in statistical analysis the difference between the sexes remains (slopes are parallel, with males more susceptible than females to starvation across all lipid proportions) but the effect of locality disappears. This result suggests that flies from different localities differ in their susceptibility to starvation because of differences in their propensity to store body lipid. We observed a negative relationship between lifespan and starvation resistance in both males and females, suggesting a fitness cost to increasing lipid reserves. These data raise issues about the role of diet in maintaining life history trait variation within and among populations. In conclusion, we show many similarities and surprising differences in life history traits between D. simulans and Drosophila melanogaster.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1371-1376
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Rob Brooks for commenting on early drafts of the manuscript and for the comments of two anonymous reviewers. Funds for the study were provided by National Science Foundation grant DEB-0444766 and National Institutes of Health RO1 grant GM067862-01.


  • Lifespan
  • Lipid content
  • Nutrition
  • Starvation
  • Stress resistance


Dive into the research topics of 'Starvation resistance is positively correlated with body lipid proportion in five wild caught Drosophila simulans populations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this