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Effect of Glucose on the Sex Ratio in Drosophila melanogaster

ABSTRACT PROCEDURE CONCLUSION


Many would-be parents eagerly wait to find out if their baby is male or The results from my experiment show that there were significantly more
female. What if a doctor could accurately predict the sex of the baby female offspring than male offspring of parent flies that had a diet
instantly by measuring the blood glucose levels of the parents and containing additional glucose. Each of the male to female sex ratios of the
inputting the measurements into an algorithm, which would give the offspring of flies that were in an environment of higher amounts of glucose
probability for a male or a female baby? In this study, Drosophila were significantly lower than the standard male to female sex ratio. Hence,
melanogaster was used as a model organism to examine the effects of the data gathered from the experiment did not support my original
additional glucose on the sex ratio of offspring. To do this, male and hypothesis.
female flies were separated into two vials for each gender: one vial
contained 2.5 mg more glucose than the other vial. After a few days, the
An explanation for this lies in the Trivers-Willard hypothesis. This
flies were placed into four vials, each vial contained either males that had
hypothesis states that the body of female parents are able to adjust
been in additional glucose or males in normal glucose as well as females
offspring sex ratios depending on their overall health. Although glucose is
that had been in additional glucose or females without additional glucose.
a necessary component to an organism's diet, an excessive amount of
The results show that there were significantly more female offspring than
glucose is not healthy. As the organism's body recognizes that the body
male offspring in vials that had parent(s) that were originally from a vial
contains an excessive amount of glucose, it adjusts the offspring sex ratio
with additional glucose added to the food medium. Specifically, in a vial
to optimize the population of fruit flies; in an unhealthy state, the offspring
that had either or both parents from a vial with additional glucose, the
tend to be more female than male as it is evolutionary advantageous for the
average number of females to the total number of offspring was 59.3
population to produce more females in times of low health.
percent females, which is statistically significant from the 48.1 percent
population average with a standard error of 2.2. Hence, this experiment
indicated that if either or both parents have a higher intake of glucose, Future works include corroborating these results using a larger sample size
there is a higher likelihood of their offspring being female. and finding a more detailed answer by examining which genes are
responsible for determining the sex of offspring as well as act as a nutrients
OBJECTIVE indicator in the fruit flies. A possible candidate for this future work is the
RESULTS upd 2 gene. Another possibility is developing a model that accurately
The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of additional glucose on predicts the sex of offspring based on the parents’ glucose levels.
the sex ratios of the offspring in Drosophila melanogaster.

REFERENCES
Sex of Offspring in MNFG
HYPOTHESIS
Number of Offspring in MNFN Sex of Offspring in MGFN Sex of Offspring in MGFG
5% 5%
0%
16%
29% 30%
Adding more glucose to Drosophila Melanogaster’s diet will result in a 45% 37%
higher male-to-female sex ratio. 55% 58% 65%
55%

BACKGROUND Male Female Not Identifiable Male Female Not Identifiable Male Female Not Identifiable
Male Female Not Identifiable
Hesketh, T., & Weixing, Z. (2006). Abnormal sex ratios in human
populations: Causes and consequences. Proceedings of the National
Academy of Science of the United States of America, 103(36), 13271-
Figure 3: The sex of the offspring in vial Figure 4: The sex of the offspring in Figure 5: The sex of the offspring in
The CIA World Factbook reports the average global sex ratio is 1.03 males Figure 2: The sex of the offspring in
vial MGFN. The male to female sex ratio vial MGFG. The male to female sex ratio 13275. doi:10.1073/pnas.0602203103
vial MNFN. The male to female sex ratio MNFG. The male to female sex ratio in this
to 1 female. In an ideal environment, the Fisher’s Principle states that the in this vial is 1.2. The percentage of vial is 0.63. The percentage of females to in this vial is 0.52. The percentage of in this vial is 0.46. The percentage of
the total is 57.9. females to the total population is 55.1. females to the total population is 65.0.
females to the total number is 45.5.
average sex ratio in most species, including Drosophila melanogaster, is 1 The World Factbook: WORLD. (2017, September 21). Retrieved October
male to 1 female. 09, 2017, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-
factbook/geos/xx.html
According to a study by Machado et al., it has been shown that diabetic
female mice are more likely to produce male offspring. A logical Machado , A. F., Zimmerman, E. F., Hovland, D. N., Jr., Weiss, R., &
explanation could be made using natural selection and evolution. The Collins, M. D. (2001). Diabetic Embryopathy in C57BL/6J Mice: Altered
amount of glucose present in its diet correlates positively with the amount Fetal Sex Ratio and Impact of the Splotch Allele. American Diabetes
of food available. In areas with less glucose and hence, less food, Association: Diabetes , 50(5), 1193-1199. Retrieved October 9, 2017, from
organisms would produce more female offspring. It is evolutionarily http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/50/5/1193
advantageous to produce more female offspring when there is a dearth of Figure 6: The total percentage of Figure 7: The total percentage of Figure 8: The total percentage of Figure 9: The total percentage of
food because a single male can mate with many female simultaneously females in vial MNFN relative to mean females in vial MNFG relative to mean females in vial MGFN relative to mean females in vial MGFG relative to mean
Rosenfeld, C. S., Grimm, K. M., Livingston, K. A., Brokman, A. M.,
population sex ratio of 48.1 ± 2.2. population sex ratio of 48.1 ± 2.2. population sex ratio of 48.1 ± 2.2. population sex ratio of 48.1 ± 2.2.
while a female has a longer reproductive time. In an effort to optimize the Lamberson, W. E., & Roberts, R. M. (2003). Striking variation in the sex
population size, organisms produce more females in areas with less ratio of pups born to mice according to whether maternal diet is high in fat
glucose. When there is a higher amount of glucose available, organisms or carbohydrate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the
produce more males because more males create competition, and the more United States of America, 100(8), 4628-4632. Retrieved October 9, 2017,
favorable traits are passed down, making the population stronger. from http://www.pnas.org/content/100/8/4628.full.pdf

Curtsinger, J. W. (1984). Components of Selection in X Chromosome Lines


of Drosophila melanogaster: Sex Ratio Modification By Meiotic Drive and
Viability Selection. Genetics,941-952. Retrieved February 25, 2018, from
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/a93d/b3bda4b97b5ed4d5334ab1dd600b5e
4271ae.pdf

Figure 1:The sex ratio of the offspring of diabetic and nondiabetic female mice.
Figure 8: Summary and analysis of results.
Source: “Altered Fetal Sex Ratio and Impact of the Splotch Allele” By Antonio F. Machado,
Ernest F. Zimmerman, David N. Hovland Jr., Robert Weiss and Michael D. Collins

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