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Effect of Larval Nutrition on Maternal mRNA Contribution to the Drosophila Egg.

  • Author(s): Crofton, Amanda E
  • Cartwright, Emily L
  • Feitzinger, Anna A
  • Lott, Susan E
  • et al.

Embryonic development begins under the control of maternal gene products, mRNAs and proteins that the mother deposits into the egg; the zygotic genome is activated some time later. Maternal control of early development is conserved across metazoans. Gene products contributed by mothers are critical to many early developmental processes, and set up trajectories for the rest of development. Maternal deposition of these factors is an often-overlooked aspect of parental investment. If the mother experiences challenging environmental conditions, such as poor nutrition, previous studies in Drosophila melanogaster have demonstrated a plastic response wherein these mothers may produce larger eggs to buffer the offspring against the same difficult environment. This additional investment can produce offspring that are more fit in the challenging environment. With this study, we ask whether D. melanogaster mothers who experience poor nutrition during their own development change their gene product contribution to the egg. We perform mRNA-Seq on eggs at a stage where all mRNAs are maternally derived, from mothers with different degrees of nutritional limitation. We find that nutritional limitation produces similar transcript changes at all degrees of limitation tested. Genes that have lower transcript abundance in nutritionally limited mothers are those involved in translation, which is likely one of the most energetically costly processes occurring in the early embryo. We find an increase in transcripts for transport and localization of macromolecules, and for the electron transport chain. The eggs produced by nutrition-limited mothers show a plastic response in mRNA deposition, which may better prepare the future embryo for development in a nutrition-limited environment.

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