Relationship between Genes and Diet on Lifespan in Drosophila

Publication Date


Document Type



Biological Sciences


Alysia Mortimer

Mentor Department

Biological Sciences


We are interested in how aging genes interact with environmental factors to promote lifespan. Dietary restriction has been found to extend lifespan in a variety of organism. In addition, a number of genes have also been found to increase longevity, however, how diet and these longevity genes interact to regulate lifespan is not well understood. To address this question, we use Drosophila melanogaster as a model because it has a relatively short lifespan and has great genetic tools that allow us to examine how changing the function of a gene influences aging. In addition, many of these aging genes are also found in humans. This makes it possible to induce a human-like disease or condition in flies to study, as an alternative to human clinical research. We found that p38 MAPK extends lifespan when over-expressed in the muscle, creating "long-lived" flies. We want to understand how different diets affect p38 MAPK mediated longevity. To do this, we are observing the lifespan of p38 MAPK over-expressed flies, along with controls, when fed different diets. We are studying three different diets: standard molasses food, nutrient-reduced Bloomington food, and nutrient-rich German food. We propose that all flies will experience the longest lifespan on Bloomington food and shortest lifespan on German food.



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