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Quantifying Drosophila food intake: comparative analysis of current methodology

Nature Methods volume 11, pages 535540 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

Food intake is a fundamental parameter in animal studies. Despite the prevalent use of Drosophila in laboratory research, precise measurements of food intake remain challenging in this model organism. Here, we compare several common Drosophila feeding assays: the capillary feeder (CAFE), food labeling with a radioactive tracer or colorimetric dye and observations of proboscis extension (PE). We show that the CAFE and radioisotope labeling provide the most consistent results, have the highest sensitivity and can resolve differences in feeding that dye labeling and PE fail to distinguish. We conclude that performing the radiolabeling and CAFE assays in parallel is currently the best approach for quantifying Drosophila food intake. Understanding the strengths and limitations of methods for measuring food intake will greatly advance Drosophila studies of nutrition, behavior and disease.

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Acknowledgements

We thank M. Piper and L. Partridge (University College London) for the Dahomey fly line and K.D. Bruce, R. Yamada and K.R. Murphy (The Scripps Research Institute) for comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Health (R00AG030493 and R21DK092735), an Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging award and a Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging (W.W.J.).

Author information

Author notes

    • Gil B Carvalho
    •  & Angela M Phillips

    Present addresses: Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA (G.B.C.), Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA (A.M.P.).

    • Sonali A Deshpande
    • , Gil B Carvalho
    •  & Ariadna Amador

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Department of Metabolism and Aging, The Scripps Research Institute, Jupiter, Florida, USA.

    • Sonali A Deshpande
    • , Gil B Carvalho
    • , Ariadna Amador
    • , Angela M Phillips
    • , Sany Hoxha
    • , Keith J Lizotte
    •  & William W Ja
  2. Scripps Graduate Program, The Scripps Research Institute, Jupiter, Florida, USA.

    • Ariadna Amador
    • , Sany Hoxha
    •  & William W Ja

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Contributions

All authors designed and carried out experiments. S.A.D., G.B.C., A.A., A.M.P., S.H. and W.W.J. also analyzed data and wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to William W Ja.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.2899

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