Biochemical Genetics

, Volume 24, Issue 1–2, pp 51–69 | Cite as

The effect of dietary ethanol on the composition of lipids of Drosophila melanogaster larvae

  • Billy W. Geer
  • Stephen W. McKechnie
  • Marilyn L. Langevin


At a moderate concentration (2.5%, v/v) dietary ethanol reduced the chain length of total fatty acids (FA) and increased the desaturation of short-chain FA in Drosophila melanogaster larvae with a functional alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). The changes in length in total FA were postulated to be due to the modulation of the termination specificity of fatty acid synthetase. Because the ethanol-stimulated reduction in the length of unsaturated FA was blocked by linoleic acid, it was thought to reflect the properties of FA 9-desaturase. Although the ethanol-stimulated reduction in chain length of unsaturated FA was also observed in ADH-null larvae, ethanol promoted an increase in the length of total FA of the mutant larvae. Thus, the ethanolstimulated change in FA length was ADH dependent but the ethanol effect on FA desaturation was not. Ethanol also stimulated a decrease in the relative amount of phosphatidylcholine and an increase in phosphatidylethanolamine. Because similar ethanol-induced changes have been found in membrane lipids of other animals, ethanol may alter the properties of membranes in larvae. It is proposed that ethanol tolerance in D. melanogaster may be dependent on genes that specify lipids that are resistant to the detrimental effects of ethanol.

Key words

ethanol lipid alcohol dehydrogenase Drosophila nutrition 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Billy W. Geer
    • 1
  • Stephen W. McKechnie
    • 1
  • Marilyn L. Langevin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyKnox CollegeGalesburg

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