Biological Sciences, School of


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Biological Sciences, Under the supervision of Professor Lawrence G. Harshman. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2010
Copyright 2010 Tiffany Elisse Schwasinger-Schmidt


Artificial selection for starvation resistance provided insight into the relationships between evolved physiological and life history trait responses following exposure to biologically induced stress. Investigations of alterations to body composition, metabolic rate, movement, and life history traits including development time, female egg production, and longevity in response to brief periods of starvation were conducted on genetically based starvation-resistant and control lines of Drosophila melanogaster. Analysis of the starvation-resistant lines indicated increased energy storage with increased triglyceride deposition and conversion of carbohydrates to lipid, as identified by respiratory quotient values. Correlations between reductions in metabolic rates and movement in the starvation-resistant lines, suggested the presence of an evolved physiological response resulting in energy conservation. Investigations of life history traits in the starvation-resistant lines indicated no significant differences in development time or reproduction between the selected and control lines. Measurements of longevity, however, indicated a significant reduction in starvation-resistant D. melanogaster lifespan. These results suggested that elevated lipid concentrations, similar to that observed with obesity, were correlated with premature mortality. Exposure of the starvation-resistant and control lines to diets supplemented with glucose, palmitic acid, and a 2:1 mixture of casein to albumin were used to investigate alterations in body composition, movement, and life history traits. Results obtained from this study indicated that increased sugar in the diet led to increased carbohydrate, glycogen, total sugar, trehalose, and triglyceride concentrations, while increased fat and protein in the diet resulted in increased soluble protein, carbohydrate, glycogen, total sugar, and trehalose concentrations. Examination of life history trait responses indicated reduced fecundity in females exposed to increased glucose concentrations. Increased supplementations of palmitic acid was consistently correlated with an overall reduction in lifespan in both the starvation-resistant and control Drosophila lines, while measurements of movement indicated increased female activity levels in flies exposed to diets supplemented with fat and protein. Analyses of the physiological and life history trait responses to starvation and dietary supplementation on Drosophila melanogaster used in the present study has implications for investigating the mechanisms underlying the development and persistence of human obesity and associated metabolic disorders.