Presentation Title

Epigenetic Rescue of Developmental Timing and Pupation Height under Dietary Stress in Drosophila

Abstract

One way living organisms can respond to changing conditions is by altering their gene expression. This response is regulated by the epigenome, the set of DNA and histone modifications that directly impact the accessibility of genes to transcriptional machinery. Epigenomic modifications can be heritable, such that phenotypes of stressed organisms influence gene expression in their offspring, potentially increasing their odds of survival. In this study, I investigate the heritability of stress-induced phenotypes expressed in response to protein and sugar deprivation out to the F2 generation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Dietary stress significantly delayed developmental timing and reduced pupation height within the parental generation, and their offspring returned to control when the dietary stress was discontinued. However, developmental time and pupation height was rescued in F1 and F2 generations maintained on the dietary restriction, such that they no longer showed the negative phenotypic consequences of the stressor displayed by their parents. These data support the hypothesis that parental epigenetic response to dietary restriction is heritable, and potentially beneficial in offspring born into the same stressful conditions faced by their parent.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Dr. Helms-Cahan

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Biological Science

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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Epigenetic Rescue of Developmental Timing and Pupation Height under Dietary Stress in Drosophila

One way living organisms can respond to changing conditions is by altering their gene expression. This response is regulated by the epigenome, the set of DNA and histone modifications that directly impact the accessibility of genes to transcriptional machinery. Epigenomic modifications can be heritable, such that phenotypes of stressed organisms influence gene expression in their offspring, potentially increasing their odds of survival. In this study, I investigate the heritability of stress-induced phenotypes expressed in response to protein and sugar deprivation out to the F2 generation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Dietary stress significantly delayed developmental timing and reduced pupation height within the parental generation, and their offspring returned to control when the dietary stress was discontinued. However, developmental time and pupation height was rescued in F1 and F2 generations maintained on the dietary restriction, such that they no longer showed the negative phenotypic consequences of the stressor displayed by their parents. These data support the hypothesis that parental epigenetic response to dietary restriction is heritable, and potentially beneficial in offspring born into the same stressful conditions faced by their parent.