Taste preference for amino acids is dependent on internal nutritional state in Drosophila melanogaster

Naoko Toshima, Teiichi Tanimura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Like mammals, insects need to ingest proteins from foods because they cannot synthesise several amino acids. Amino acids are also essential nutrients for Drosophila melanogaster, especially for female egg production, but how flies detect amino acids and how the feeding response to amino acids is regulated are unknown. In this study, the two-choice preference test, the proboscis extension reflex test and a CAFE assay were performed to explore the ability of D. melanogaster to detect and discriminate amino acids. To determine whether D. melanogaster change their feeding preference to amino acids after being deprived of them, as previously reported in the locust, two groups of flies raised on the usual medium or on glucose medium were compared. Aminoacid- deprived flies demonstrated enhanced preference to an amino acid mixture and to several amino acids. These flies ingested amino acids even when they were replete with glucose. The proboscis extension reflex to particular amino acids was induced only in amino-acid-deprived flies. Our findings indicate that the sensitivity of labellar taste cells to amino acids may change when flies are deficient in amino acid supply, and also reveal that the detection pathways for individual amino acids may differ. We suggest the existence of an amino acid receptor and a monitoring system regulating the feeding responses to amino acids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2827-2832
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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