Towards a synthesis of frameworks in nutritional ecology: interacting effects of protein, carbohydrate and phosphorus on field cricket fitness.
ABSTRACT: Phosphorus has been identified as an important determinant of nutrition-related biological variation. The macronutrients protein (P) and carbohydrates (C), both alone and interactively, are known to affect animal performance. No study, however, has investigated the importance of phosphorus relative to dietary protein or carbohydrates, or the interactive effects of phosphorus with these macronutrients, on fitness-related traits in animals. We used a nutritional geometry framework to address this question in adult field crickets (Gryllus veletis). Our results showed that lifespan, weight gain, acoustic mate signalling and egg production were maximized on diets with different P : C ratios, that phosphorus did not positively affect any of these fitness traits, and that males and females had different optimal macronutrient intake ratios for reproductive performance. When given a choice, crickets selected diets that maximized both lifespan and reproductive performance by preferentially eating diets with low P : C ratios, and females selected diets with a higher P : C ratio than males. Conversely, phosphorus intake was not regulated. Overall, our findings highlight the importance of disentangling the influences of different nutrients, and of quantifying both their individual and interactive effects, on animal fitness traits, so as to gain a more integrative understanding of their nutritional ecology.
Project description:In invertebrates, reproductive output and lifespan are profoundly impacted by dietary macronutrient balance, with these traits achieving their maxima on different diet compositions, giving the appearance of a resource-based tradeoff between reproduction and longevity. For the first time in a mammal, to our knowledge, we evaluate the effects of dietary protein (P), carbohydrate (C), fat (F), and energy (E) on lifespan and reproductive function in aging male and female mice. We show that, as in invertebrates, the balance of macronutrients has marked and largely opposing effects on reproductive and longevity outcomes. Mice were provided ad libitum access to one of 25 diets differing in P, C, F, and E content, with reproductive outcomes assessed at 15 months. An optimal balance of macronutrients exists for reproductive function, which, for most measures, differs from the diets that optimize lifespan, and this response differs with sex. Maximal longevity was achieved on diets containing a P:C ratio of 1:13 in males and 1:11 for females. Diets that optimized testes mass and epididymal sperm counts (indicators of gamete production) contained a higher P:C ratio (1:1) than those that maximized lifespan. In females, uterine mass (an indicator of estrogenic activity) was also greatest on high P:C diets (1:1) whereas ovarian follicle number was greatest on P:C 3:1 associated with high-F intakes. By contrast, estrous cycling was more likely in mice on lower P:C (1:8), and the number of corpora lutea, indicative of recent ovulations, was greatest on P:C similar to those supporting greatest longevity (1:11).
Project description:Selection may favour individuals of the same population to differ consistently in nutritional preference, for example, because optimal diets covary with morphology or personality. We provided Southern field crickets (Gryllus bimaculatus) with two synthetic food sources (carbohydrates and proteins) and quantified repeatedly how much of each macronutrient was consumed by each individual. We then quantified (i) whether individuals were repeatable in carbohydrate and protein intake rate, (ii) whether an individual's average daily intake of carbohydrates was correlated with its average daily intake of protein, and (iii) whether short-term changes in intake of carbohydrates coincided with changes in intake of protein within individuals. Intake rates were individually repeatable for both macronutrients. However, individuals differed in their relative daily intake of carbohydrates versus proteins (i.e., 'nutritional preference'). By contrast, total consumption varied plastically as a function of body weight within individuals. Body weight-but not personality (i.e., aggression, exploration behaviour)-positively predicted nutritional preference at the individual level as large crickets repeatedly consumed a higher carbohydrate to protein ratio compared to small ones. Our finding of level-specific associations between the consumption of distinct nutritional components demonstrates the merit of applying multivariate and multi-level viewpoints to the study of nutritional preference.
Project description:The emerging field of nutritional geometry (NG) provides powerful new approaches to test whether and how organisms prioritize specific nutritional blends when consuming chemically complex foods. NG approaches can thus help move beyond food-level estimates of diet breadth to predict invasive success, for instance by revealing narrow nutritional niches if broad diets are actually composed of nutritionally similar foods. We used two NG paradigms to provide different, but complementary insights into nutrient regulation strategies and test a hypothesis of extreme nutritional generalism in colony propagules of the globally distributed invasive ant Monomorium pharaonis. First, in two dimensions (protein:carbohydrates; P:C), M. pharaonis colonies consistently defended a slightly carbohydrate-biased intake target, while using a generalist equal-distance strategy of collectively overharvesting both protein and carbohydrates to reach this target when confined to imbalanced P:C diets. Second, a recently developed right-angled mixture triangle method enabled us to define the fundamental niche breadth in three dimensions (protein:carbohydrates:lipid, P:C:L). We found that colonies navigated the P:C:L landscape, in part, to mediate a tradeoff between worker survival (maximized on high-carbohydrate diets) and brood production (maximized on high-protein diets). Colonies further appeared unable to avoid this tradeoff by consuming extra lipids when the other nutrients were limiting. Colonies also did not rely on nutrient regulation inside their nests, as they did not hoard or scatter fractions of harvested diets to adjust the nutritional blends they consumed. These complementary NG approaches highlight that even the most successful invasive species with broad fundamental macronutrient niches must navigate complex multidimensional nutritional landscapes to acquire limiting macronutrients and overcome developmental constraints as small propagules.
Project description:Macronutrient balance is a critical contributor in modulating lifespan and health. Consumption of diets rich in fruits and vegetables provides numerous health benefits. The interactions among macronutrients and botanicals and how they influence aging and health remain elusive. Here we employed a nutritional geometry approach to investigate the interplay among dietary fat, sugar, protein and antioxidant- and polyphenolic-rich freeze-dried açai pulp in modulating lifespan and reproductive output in the Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens (Loew). Individual flies were cultured on one of the 24 diets made from a combination of 1) sugar and yeast extract (SY) at four ratios, 2) palmitic acid, a saturated fat, at two concentrations and 3) freeze-dried açai pulp at three concentrations. Fat addition decreased lifespan in females on the sugar only diet and the diet with a low SY ratio, while decreasing lifetime reproductive output in flies on the diet with the low SY ratio when compared to SY ratio-matched low fat controls. Açai supplementation promoted survival, while decreasing lifetime reproductive output, in flies on diets with high fat and high sugar but not other diets when compared to diet-matched non-supplemented controls. These findings reveal that the impact of fat and açai on lifespan and reproductive output depends on the dietary content of other macronutrients. Our results reveal the intricate interplay among macronutrients and nutraceuticals, and underscore the importance of taking macronutrient balance into consideration in designing dietary interventions for aging and health.
Project description:Animals have evolved foraging strategies to acquire blends of nutrients that maximize fitness traits. In social insects, nutrient regulation is complicated by the fact that few individuals, the foragers, must address the divergent nutritional needs of all colony members simultaneously, including other workers, the reproductives, and the brood. Here we used 3D nutritional geometry design to examine how bumblebee workers regulate their collection of 3 major macronutrients in the presence and absence of brood. We provided small colonies artificial nectars (liquid diets) and pollens (solid diets) varying in their compositions of proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates during 2 weeks. Colonies given a choice between nutritionally complementary diets self-selected foods to reach a target ratio of 71% proteins, 6% carbohydrates, and 23% lipids, irrespective of the presence of brood. When confined to a single nutritionally imbalanced solid diet, colonies without brood regulated lipid collection and over-collected protein relative to this target ratio, whereas colonies with brood regulated both lipid and protein collection. This brood effect on the regulation of nutrient collection by workers suggests that protein levels are critical for larval development. Our results highlight the importance of considering bee nutrition as a multidimensional phenomenon to better assess the effects of environmental impoverishment and malnutrition on population declines.
Project description:Diet is an important determinant of fitness-related traits including growth, reproduction, and survival. Recent work has suggested that variation in protein:lipid ratio and particularly the amount of protein in the diet is a key nutritional parameter. However, the traits that mediate the link between dietary macronutrient ratio and fitness-related traits are less well understood. An obvious candidate is body composition, given its well-known link to health. Here, we investigate the relationship between dietary and body macronutrient composition using a first-generation laboratory population of a freshwater fish, the three-spine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Carbohydrate is relatively unimportant in the diet of predatory fish, facilitating the exploration of how dietary protein-to-lipid ratio affects their relative deposition in the body. We find a significant effect of lipid intake, rather than protein, on body protein:lipid ratio. Importantly, this was not a result of absorbing macronutrients in relation to their relative abundance in the diet, as the carcass protein:lipid ratios differed from those of the diets, with ratios usually lower in the body than in the diet. This indicates that individuals can moderate their utilization, or uptake, of ingested macronutrients to reach a target balance within the body. We found no effect of diet on swimming endurance, activity, or testes size. However, there was an effect of weight on testes size, with larger males having larger testes. Our results provide evidence for the adjustment of body protein:lipid ratio away from that of the diet. As dietary lipid intake was the key determinant of body composition, we suggest this occurs via metabolism of excess protein, which conflicts with the predictions of the protein leverage hypothesis. These results could imply that the conversion and excretion of protein is one of the causes of the survival costs associated with high-protein diets.
Project description:Senescence is shaped by age-dependent trade-offs between fitness components. Because males and females invest different resources in reproduction, the trade-offs behind age-dependent reproductive effort should be resolved differently in the sexes. In this study, we assess the effects of diet (high carbohydrate and low protein vs. equal carbohydrate and protein) and mating (once mated vs. virgin) on lifespan and age-dependent mortality in male and female field crickets (Teleogryllus commodus), and on male calling effort. Females always had higher actuarial ageing rates than males, and we found a clear lifespan cost of mating in females. Mated males, however, lived longer than virgin males, possibly because virgins call more than mated males. The fastest age-dependent increases in mortality were among mated males on the high-carbohydrate diet. Males on a high-carbohydrate diet showed a faster increase in calling effort earlier in life, and a more pronounced pattern of senescence once they reached this peak than did males on a diet with equal amounts of protein and carbohydrates. Our results provide evidence that the cost of mating in this cricket species is both diet and sex-dependent, and that the underlying causes of sex differences in life-history traits such as lifespan and senescence can be complex.
Project description:Dietary restriction extends life span across a vast diversity of taxa, but significant challenges remain in elucidating the underlying mechanisms. Distinguishing between caloric and nutrient effects is an essential step. Recent studies with Drosophila and tephritid fruit flies have reported increased life span as dietary yeast-to-sugar ratios decreased and these effects have been attributed to changes in protein-to-carbohydrate (P:C) ratios of the diets rather than calories. However, yeast is a complex mix of macronutrients and micronutrients, and hence changes in yeast content of the diet necessarily alters other nutrients in lockstep. To explicitly test whether studies using yeast are justified in attributing results to diet protein content rather than correlated nutrients, we developed a chemically defined diet allowing manipulation of just the ratio of protein (free amino acids) to carbohydrate (sucrose) levels of diets while holding other nutrients constant. Mated, female Queensland fruit flies (Q-flies) were fed 1 of 18 diets varying in P:C ratios and diet concentration. Diet consumption, egg production, and life span were recorded for each fly. In close concordance with recent studies using yeast diets, flies had increased life span as P:C ratios decreased, and caloric restriction did not extend life span. Similarly, egg production was maximized on high P:C ratios, but lifetime egg production was maximized on intermediate P:C ratios, indicating a life history trade-off between life span and egg production rate. Finally, Q-flies adjusted their diet intake in response to P:C ratios and diet concentration. Our results substantiate recent claims that P:C ratios significantly modulate life span in flies.
Project description:The oxidative stress theory predicts that the accumulation of oxidative damage causes aging. More generally, oxidative damage could be a cost of reproduction that reduces survival. Both of these hypotheses have mixed empirical support. To better understand the life-history consequences of oxidative damage, we fed male and female Australian field crickets (Teleogryllus commodus) four diets differing in their protein and carbohydrate content, which have sex-specific effects on reproductive effort and lifespan. We supplemented half of these crickets with the vitamin E isoform DL-alpha-tocopherol and measured the effects of nutrient intake on lifespan, reproduction, oxidative damage and antioxidant protection. We found a clear trade-off between reproductive effort and lifespan in females but not in males. In direct contrast to the oxidative stress theory, crickets fed diets that improved their lifespan had high levels of oxidative damage to proteins. Supplementation with DL-alpha-tocopherol did not significantly improve lifespan or reproductive effort. However, males fed diets that increased their reproductive investment experienced high oxidative damage to proteins. While this suggests that male reproductive effort could elevate oxidative damage, this was not associated with reduced male survival. Overall, these results provide little evidence that oxidative damage plays a central role in mediating life-history trade-offs in T. commodus.
Project description:Dietary essential amino acids have an important influence on the lifespan and fitness of animals. The expression of the NAD(+)-dependent histone deacetylase, Sir2, can be influenced by diet, but its role in the extension of lifespan has recently been challenged. Here, we used the honeybee to test how the dietary balance of carbohydrates and essential amino acids and/or Sir2 affected lifespan. Using liquid diets varying in their ratio of essential amino acids to carbohydrate (EAA:C), we found that adult worker bees fed diets high in essential amino acids (?1:10) had shorter lifespans than bees fed diets containing low levels of dietary amino acids. Bees fed a 1:500 EAA:C diet lived longer and, in contrast to bees fed any of the other diets, expressed Sir2 at levels tenfold higher or more than bees fed a 1:5 EAA:C diet. When bees were fed the 1:500 diet, small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated knock-down of Sir2 expression shortened lifespan but did not reduce survival to the same extent as the 1:5 diet, indicating that Sir2 contributes to mechanisms that determine lifespan in response to differences in macronutrient intake but is not the sole determinant. These data show that the ratio of dietary amino acids to carbohydrate influences Sir2 expression and clearly demonstrate that Sir2 is one of the factors that can determine honeybee lifespan. We propose that effects of dietary amino acids and Sir2 on lifespan may depend on the simultaneous activation of multiple nutrient sensors that respond to relative levels of essential amino acids and carbohydrates.