Nutritional geometry of paternal effects on embryo mortality

Michal Polak, Leigh W. Simmons, Joshua B. Benoit, Kari Ruohonen, Stephen J. Simpson, Samantha M. Solon-Biet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Well-established causal links exist between maternal nutritional deficits and embryo health and viability. By contrast, environmental effects operating through the father that could influence embryo mortality have seldom been examined. Yet, ejaculates can require non-trivial resource allocation, and seminal plasma components are increasingly recognized to exert wide-ranging effects on females and offspring, so paternal dietary effects on the embryo should be expected. We test for effects of varying levels of protein (P), carbohydrate (C) and caloric load in adult male diet on embryo mortality in Drosophila melanogaster.We demonstrate that macronutrient balance and caloric restriction exert significant effects, and that nutritional effects are more impactful when a prior mating has occurred. Once-mated males produced embryos with marginally elevated mortality under high-caloric densities and a 1: 8 P: C ratio. In contrast, embryos produced by twice-mated males were significantly more likely to die under male caloric restriction, an outcome that may have resulted from shifts in ejaculate quality and/or epigenetic paternal effects. Body nutrient reserves were strongly and predictably altered by diet, and body condition, in turn, was negatively related to embryo mortality. Thus, sire nutritional history and resultant shifts in metabolic state predict embryo viability and post-fertilization fitness outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20171492
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1864
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2017


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