Variation in the response to exercise stimulation in Drosophila: marathon runner versus sprinter genotypes

Academic Article


  • Animals' behaviors vary in response to their environment, both biotic and abiotic. These behavioral responses have significant impacts on animal survival and fitness, and thus, many behavioral responses are at least partially under genetic control. In Drosophila, for example, genes impacting aggression, courtship behavior, circadian rhythms and sleep have been identified. Animal activity also is influenced strongly by genetics. My lab previously has used the Drosophila melanogaster Genetics Reference Panel (DGRP) to investigate activity levels and identified over 100 genes linked to activity. Here, I re-examined these data to determine whether Drosophila strains differ in their response to rotational exercise stimulation, not simply in the amount of activity, but in activity patterns and timing of activity. Specifically, I asked whether there are fly strains exhibiting either a 'marathoner' pattern of activity, i.e. remaining active throughout the 2┬áh exercise period, or a 'sprinter' pattern, i.e. carrying out most of the activity early in the exercise period. The DGRP strains examined differ significantly in how much activity is carried out at the beginning of the exercise period, and this pattern is influenced by both sex and genotype. Interestingly, there was no clear link between the activity response pattern and lifespan of the animals. Using genome-wide association studies (GWAS), I identified 10 high confidence candidate genes that control the degree to which Drosophila exercise behaviors fit a marathoner or sprinter activity pattern. This finding suggests that, similar to other aspects of locomotor behavior, the timing of activity patterns in response to exercise stimulation is under genetic control.
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    Author List

  • Riddle NC
  • Volume

  • 223