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Drosophila glue protects from predation

By Flora Borne, St├ęphane R. Prigent, Mathieu Molet, Virginie Courtier-Orgogozo

Posted 23 Dec 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.23.424162

Animals can be permanently attached to a substrate for several days, weeks or months in aerial environments at certain stages of their development such as eggs and pupae. Pupa adhesion has evolved multiple times in insects and is thought to maintain the animal in a place where it is not detectable by predators. Here, we investigate whether pupa adhesion in Drosophila could also protect the animal by preventing potential predators from detaching the pupa. We measured the adhesion of Drosophila species originating from the same area and found that pupa adhesion varies among species, which can be explained by different glue production strategies. Then, we compared attached and manually detached pupae in both field and laboratory assays to investigate the role of pupa adhesion to prevent predation. First, we found that attached pupae remain on site 30 % more than detached pupae in the field after three days, probably because they are less predated. Second, we observed that attached pupae are less efficiently predated by ants in the laboratory, because they are not carried back to the ant nest and because more ants are needed to consume them onsite. Our results show that pupa adhesion is a crucial mechanical trait for Drosophila fly survival that can prevent the animal from being taken away by predators.

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