Octopamine controls starvation resistance, life span and metabolic traits in Drosophil

Survival of organisms depends partially on their response to stress. For Humans and other organisms, these responses are regulated, it part, by epinephrine and norepinephrine. This system in humans contains many feedback loops and is complicated to study. Invertebrate systems are easier to study. This research focuses on how similar chemicals in Drosophila have an effect certain characteristics. Specifically their research found that chemicals had an effect on lifespan, starvation resistance, and body fat in fruit flies, as well as other minor traits.

In Drosophila melanogaster, these responses are regulated by octopamine and tyramine. The synthesis of these chemicals was interrupted in order to study the effects of their absence. Flies were cultured in such a way that some contained no Octopamine, and others were devoid of octopamine and tyramine. The flies where then screened to view the effects on life-history traits. Flies that lacked octopamine displayed what the researchers refer to as “couch-potato syndrome”. Meaning that the flies have a heightened body weight, and lower activity. These flies also exhibited greater starvation resistance. The lifespans of these flies, however, were reduced. There was a slight difference in reduction between the males and the females, the males’ lifespan being reduced by 27%, and the females by 39%.

Overall, further studies could increase knowledge of the role these chemicals play in Drosophila melanogaster.