Sex-Dependent Effects of the Microbiome on Foraging and Locomotion in Drosophila suzukii

Runhang Shu, Daniel A. Hahn, Edouard Jurkevitch, Oscar E. Liburd, Boaz Yuval, Adam Chun Nin Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number656406
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - 10 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Shu, Hahn, Jurkevitch, Liburd, Yuval and Wong.


  • Drosophila
  • foraging
  • locomotion
  • microbiome
  • oviposition
  • sex differences


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