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Short- and long-term effects of environmental urea on fecundity in Drosophila melanogaster


Previous studies have shown that exposure to urea-supplemented food inhibited fecundity in Drosophila females, and that this inhibition was not expressed when females were given a choice between regular and urea- supplemented food as an oviposition substrate. We assayed fecundity, on both regular food and urea-supplemented food, at 5, 15 and 25 days post eclosion on females from ten laboratory populations of Drosophila melanogaster. The females assayed came from one of two treatments; they were maintained as adults on either regular or urea-supplemented food. We found that exposure to urea-supplemented food inhibited fecundity, relative to the levels exhibited on regular food, regardless of whether the urea was present in the assay medium, or in the medium on which the flies were maintained over the course of the experiment, thereby suggesting that urea has both a long-term (possibly physiological) as well as a short-term (possibly behavioural) inhibitory effect on fecundity of Drosophila females. We also tested and ruled out the hypothesis that prior yeasting could ameliorate the inhibitory effect of urea in the assay medium on fecundity, as this was a possible explanation of wily flies given a choice between regular and urea- supplemented food did not exhibit a preference for regular food in a previous study.

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