Washington: Maternal diets higher in protein increases the overall fecundity of the adult mother and also has a beneficial effect on the next generation, than females grown on a diet that was mainly sugar, a new study has found.
Researcher at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), while studying the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) as part of a multi-institutional team, discovered that a larval diet that`s predominantly protein is better than a diet of sugar when it comes to the reproduction and development of the next generation of the small flies, which count humanlike metabolism among their many biological similarities.
The scientists adjusted the proportion of yeast to sugar in the flies` diet to devise protein-rich or sugar-rich food sources.
Comparing both diets, they discovered that mother flies that grew as larvae on a protein diet had greater fecundity and offspring possessing greater metabolic reserves than females grown as larvae on a diet that was predominantly sugar.
"We saw that maternal larval diets higher in protein increased the overall fecundity of the adult mother, the number of eggs she produced, and also had a beneficial effect on the next generation, the F1 generation of offspring," Dr. Luciano Matzkin, assistant professor and director of the graduate program in the UAH Department of Biological Sciences said.
When researchers returned F1 larvae to a typical banana puree lab diet fed to fruit flies, it did not change the beneficial effects that the maternal larval protein diet had conferred on the F1 generation.
This basic research has applications to humans and other species, Dr. Matzkin said.
The dramatic change in the human diet since the Industrial Revolution "to where we have almost pre-digested food" has altered human nutrition, Dr. Matzkin said.
Along with other environmental factors, the changes may influence a range of childhood and adult health outcomes, such as the rise of asthma, allergies, juvenile onset diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
"These environmental influences affect the turning on and off of genes, and how they interact with each other," he said.