Sex-specific effects of the microbiota on adult carbohydrate intake and body composition in a polyphagous fly

Binh Nguyen*, Hue Dinh, Juliano Morimoto, Fleur Ponton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The microbiota influences hosts’ health and fitness. However, the extent to which the microbiota affects host’ foraging decisions and related life history traits remains to be fully understood. Our study explored the effects of microbiota manipulation on foraging preference and phenotypic traits of larval and adult stages of the polyphagous fruit fly Bactrocera tryoni, one of the main horticultural pests in Australia. We generated three treatments: control (non-treated microbiota), axenic (removed microbiota), and reinoculation (individuals which had their microbiota removed then re-introduced). Our results confirmed that axenic larvae and immature (i.e., newly emerged 0 day-old, sexually-immature) adults were lighter than control and reinoculated individuals. Interestingly, we found a sex-specific effect of the microbiota manipulation on carbohydrate intake and body composition of 10 day-old mature adults. Axenic males ate less carbohydrate, and had lower body weight and total body fat relative to control and reinoculated males. Conversely, axenic females ate more carbohydrate than control and reinoculated ones, although body weight and lipid reserves were similar across treatments. Axenic females produced fewer eggs than control and reinoculated females. Our findings corroborate the far-reaching effects of microbiota in insects found in previous studies and show, for the first time, a sex-specific effect of microbiota on feeding behaviour in flies. Our results underscore the dynamic relationship between the microbiota and the host with the reinoculation of microbes restoring some traits that were affected in axenic individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104308
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Early online date3 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Project Raising Q-fly Sterile Insect Technique to World Standard (HG14033) is funded by the Hort Frontiers Fruit Fly Fund, part of the Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative developed by Hort Innovation, with co-investment from Macquarie University (NSW, Australia) and contributions from the Australian Government. BN was funded by the international Research Training Program (iRTP) scholarship from Macquarie University and the Australian Government. HD was funded by Macquarie Research Excellence Scholarship Program scholarship (iMQRES).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Body reserves
  • Carbohydrate
  • Feeding behaviour
  • Fly
  • Host-microbe interaction
  • Reproduction


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