Date Published:MAY 10
Abstract:There is growing evidence that symbiotic microbes can influence multiple nutrition-related behaviors of their hosts, including locomotion, feeding, and foraging. However, how the microbiome affects nutrition-related behavior is largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate clear sexual dimorphism in how the microbiome affects foraging behavior of a frugivorous fruit fly, Drosophila suzukii. Female flies deprived of their microbiome (axenic) were consistently less active in foraging on fruits than their conventional counterparts, even though they were more susceptible to starvation and starvation-induced locomotion was notably more elevated in axenic than conventional females. Such behavioral change was not observed in male flies. The lag of axenic female flies but not male flies to forage on fruits is associated with lower oviposition by axenic flies, and mirrored by reduced food seeking observed in virgin females when compared to mated, gravid females. In contrast to foraging intensity being highly dependent on the microbiome, conventional and axenic flies of both sexes showed relatively consistent and similar fruit preferences in foraging and oviposition, with raspberries being preferred among the fruits tested. Collectively, this work highlights a clear sex-specific effect of the microbiome on foraging and locomotion behaviors in flies, an important first step toward identifying specific mechanisms that may drive the modulation of insect behavior by interactions between the host, the microbiome, and food.