Lengthening Life: Diapause Induced Lifespan Extension In Drosophila melanogaster
Diapause is a protective trait used by many invertebrates to overcome unfavorable environmental conditions, such as cold temperature and starvation. Drosophila melanogaster undergoes a shallow reproductive diapause, characterized by metabolic reprogramming, reduced locomotion, increased stress tolerance, and delayed tissue senescence, ultimately, resulting in an increase in overall organism lifespan. Several pathways implicated in longevity also regulate diapause. This, along with the prevention of normal degeneration seen during this process, offers a unique way in which to study aging and its associated degenerative diseases. Most studies of this complex trait have utilized the pause of ovary development at pre-vitellogenic stages as the main determinant for categorizing diapause inducibility. This approach ignores the complexity of this trait by only relying on reproductive development as the defining characteristic. In this study, the power of the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel is implemented in order to conduct a genome-wide association study of diapause traits. By quantifying two phenotypes, fecundity and longevity, this tool has led to the identification of a total of 151 genes associated with this trait, and 52 intergenic regions, which may be involved in the regulation of the diapause program. Enrichment analyses suggest the involvement of metabolic pathways, the innate immune system, and GPCR signaling, components of which have also been shown in C. elegans. Further studies should aim to better combine the two mechanisms of quantifying this phenotype, and functionally confirm the involvement of the candidate genes.