Additive and interactive effects of nutrient classes on longevity, reproduction, and diet consumption in the Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni)

Benjamin G. Fanson*, Phillip W. Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)


    Insect lifespan is often closely linked to diet, and diet manipulations have been central to studies of ageing. Recent research has found that lifespan for some flies is maximised on a very low yeast diet, but once all yeast is removed, lifespan drops precipitously. Although effects of yeast availability on lifespan are commonly interpreted in terms of protein, yeast is a complex mix of nutrients and provides a rich source of vitamins, minerals and sterols. Elucidating which components of yeast are involved in this lifespan drop provides insights into more specific nutritional requirements and also provides a test for the commonplace interpretation of yeast in terms of protein. To this end, we fed Queensland fruit flies (Bactrocera tryoni) one of eight experimental diets that differed in the nutrient group(s) found in yeast that were added to sucrose: none, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, cholesterol, vitamin. +. mineral. +. cholesterol (VMC), vitamin. +. mineral. +. cholesterol. +. amino acids (VMCA), and yeast. We measured survival rates and egg production in single sex and mixed sex cages, as well as nutrient intake of individual flies. We found that the addition of minerals increased lifespan of both male and female flies housed in single sex cages by decreasing baseline mortality. The addition of just amino acids decreased lifespan in female flies; however, when combined with other nutrient groups found in yeast, amino acids increased lifespan by decreasing both baseline mortality and age-specific mortality. Flies on the yeast and VMCA diets were the only ones to show significant egg production. We conclude that the drop in lifespan observed when all yeast is removed is explained by missing micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and cholesterol) as well as the absence of protein in females, whereas minerals alone can explain the pattern for males. These results indicate a need for caution when interpreting effects of dietary yeast as effects of protein.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)327-334
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


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