Female vinegar flies (Drosophila melanogaster) preferentially oviposit eggs on oviposition substrates that decrease larval foraging costs. We tested whether female D. melanogaster would avoid oviposition substrates containing lead (Pb2+), which could potentially decrease offspring fitness. Wild type D. melanogaster were reared on control or Pb-treated medium from egg stage to adulthood and tested for differences in oviposition substrate preference, fecundity (number of eggs laid) and Pb accumulation. Control females laid a significantly lower proportion of eggs on Pb-treated substrates than Pb-treated females. Pb-treated females laid significantly more eggs than control females. Pb-treated adults accumulated significantly more Pb than control-treated adults. These results indicate that Pb exposure disrupts normal oviposition avoidance behaviors, which could increase larval foraging costs for larval offspring. These factors could induce population declines and have cascading implications for the ecosystem.
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This work was supported by a National Institute for Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) Grant (R01 ES012933), a University at Albany-State University of New York Benevolent Research Grant, and a University at Albany-State University of New York Graduate Student Association Research Grant. We would like to thank Brian Smith (College of Arts and Sciences Machine Shop, University at Albany-State University of New York) for building us our oviposition chambers. We would like to thank Thomas Graziano for his drawing of a vinegar fly in Fig. 1. We would also like to thank Drs. Gregory Lnenicka (Department of Biology, University at Albany-State University of New York), David Lawrence (Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University at Albany-State University of New York) and Roman Yukilevich (Department of Biology, Union College) for their advice and support throughout the implementation of the research and providing invaluable feedback on this manuscript.
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Peterson, E.K., Stark, A., Varian-Ramos, C.W. et al. Exposure to Lead (Pb2+) Eliminates Avoidance of Pb-Treated Oviposition Substrates in a Dose-Dependent Manner in Female Vinegar Flies. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 104, 588–594 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-020-02825-w