3 years ago

'Foraging' for a place to lay eggs: A genetic link between foraging behaviour and oviposition preferences

Mark J. Fitzpatrick, Murray W. McConnell

by Murray W. McConnell, Mark J. Fitzpatrick

Gravid female arthropods in search of egg-laying substrates embark on foraging-like forays: they survey the environment assessing multiple patches, tasting each with their tarsi and proboscis, and then, if interested, they deposit an egg (or eggs). In fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, allelic variation in the foraging gene (for) underlies the rover/sitter foraging behaviour polymorphism. Rover flies (forR) are more active foragers (both within and between food patches) compared to sitters (fors). In nematodes, Caenorhabditis elegans, a mutation in egl-4, the ortholog of for, leads to aberrations in egg laying. Given this and the notion that females may ‘forage’ for a place to oviposit, we hypothesized that for may underlie egg-laying decisions in the fruit fly. Indeed, when given a choice between patches of low- and high-nutrient availability, rovers lay significantly more eggs on the low-nutrient patches than sitters and also a sitter mutant (fors2). We confirm the role of for by inducing rover-like oviposition preferences in a sitter fly using the transgenic overexpression of for-mRNA in the nervous system.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179362

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