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The conquest of a new habitat: a study of nutritional and sensory adaptations in Drosophila suzukii larvae

Project description

Innovative study on animal nutrition adaptation

Animals have peripheral chemosensory mechanisms to search and incorporate nutrients in feeding substrates and internal nutrient-sensing mechanisms to assess their needs. The EU-funded ECONUTRISENS project aims to understand the relationship between these nutrient-sensing mechanisms and a species’ nutritional needs concerning its ecological purpose and evolutionary history. The project will model this subject on a comparative study between the recent global pest species Drosophila suzukii and D. melanogaster. ECONUTRISENS will apply an innovative method to study nutrition by integrating three levels of analysis: the nutritional composition of their environment, the larval metabolic parameters along with the activity of nutrient-sensitive signalling pathways, and the function of the peripheral chemosensory system linked to nutrient sensing.

Objective

Animals need to feed to incorporate nutrients -amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids. Since feeding substrates contain varying concentrations of these nutrients, animals have in place peripheral chemosensory mechanisms to search for them, and internal nutrient sensing mechanisms to assess their needs. Additionally, species occupying different ecological niches have evolved to profit from feeding substrates with different nutritional composition. My goal is to understand the relationship between these nutrient sensing mechanisms and a species’ nutritional needs, in the context of its ecological niche and its evolutionary history. I propose to model this subject on a comparative study between the recent global pest species Drosophila suzukii and D. melanogaster. Although both are generalist species that feed on overripe fruits as adults, D. suzukii has conquered a new egg laying niche, the ripening fruit, which implies a new nutritional landscape for the developing larva. I will address this subject by integrating three levels of analysis. First, the nutritional composition of their environment, the host fruits, and how it is affected by larval activity. Second, larval metabolic parameters and the activity of nutrient sensitive signaling pathways. Third, the function of the the peripheral chemosensory system related to nutrient sensing. I will accomplish this by translating tools generated on the model species D. melanogaster for the study of physiology and metabolism to D. suzukii. Through this action I will apply an innovative approach to the study of nutrition that integrates its ecological, physiological, chemosensory and evolutionary aspects. I will generate knowledge on the biology of D. suzukii, important for the fight against the growing pest. Importantly, this project will restart my career in academia after an unintentional break and I will train in the new skills I need to become an independent group leader on this same research topic.

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Coordinator

MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV
Net EU contribution
€ 262 209,60
Address
Hofgartenstrasse 8
80539 Munchen
Germany

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Region
Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Research Organisations
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00