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The Drosophila microbiome has a limited influence on sleep, activity, and courtship behaviors

By Joel Selkrig, Farhan Mohammad, Soon Hwee Ng, Jia Yi Chua, Tayfun Tumkaya, Joses Ho, Yin Ning Chiang, Dirk Rieger, Sven Pettersson, Charlotte Helfrich-Foerster, Joanne Yew, Adam Claridge-Chang

Posted 22 Mar 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/287045 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-28764-5)

In animals, commensal microbes modulate various physiological functions, including behavior. While microbiota exposure is required for normal behavior in mammals, it is not known how widely this dependency is present in other animal species. We proposed the hypothesis that the microbiome has a major influence on the behavior of the vinegar fly (Drosophila melanogaster), a major invertebrate model organism. Several assays were used to test the contribution of the microbiome on some well-characterized behaviors: defensive behavior, sleep, locomotion, and courtship in microbe-bearing, control flies and two generations of germ-free animals. None of the behaviors were largely influenced by the absence of a microbiome, and the small or moderate effects were not generalizable between replicates and/or generations. These results refute the hypothesis, indicating that the Drosophila microbiome does not have a major influence over several behaviors fundamental to the animal's survival and reproduction. The impact of commensal microbes on animal behaviour may not be broadly conserved.

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