Parental microbiota modulates offspring development, body mass and fecundity in Q-flies

Find out more about the paper recently published by our member Binh Nguyen from the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University by clicking here.


The commensal microbiota is a key modulator of animal fitness, but little is known about the extent to which the parental microbiota influences fitness-related traits of future generations. We addressed this gap by manipulating the parental microbiota of a polyphagous fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni) and measuring offspring developmental traits, body composition, and fecundity. We generated three parental microbiota treatments where parents had a microbiota that was non-manipulated (control), removed (axenic), or removed-and-reintroduced (reinoculation). We found that the percentage of egg hatching, of pupal production, and body weight of larvae and adult females were lower in offspring of axenic parents compared to that of non-axenic parents. The percentage of partially emerged adults was higher, and fecundity of adult females was lower in offspring of axenic parents relative to offspring of control and reinoculated parents. There was no significant effect of parental microbiota manipulation on offspring developmental time or lipid reserve. Our results reveal transgenerational effects of the parental commensal microbiota on different aspects of offspring life-history traits, thereby providing a better understanding of the long-lasting effects of host–microbe interactions.