Bugs helping bugs: How environmental microbes boost fruit fly reproduction


Drosophila process of oogenesis

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Credit: Osaka university

Osaka, Japan – For most of us, when we think of microbiomes, our first thoughts are probably about the beneficial microorganisms that live in our guts. But now, researchers from Japan and the US have discovered how the microbes that live in fruit flies can improve their reproduction.

In a recently published study of Biology of Communicationthe research team revealed that microbes in the fruit fly microbiome are involved in controlling germline stem cells that form eggs, as well as subsequent egg maturation, in female fruit flies.

The microbiome—the community of microorganisms that live within and in a host—plays a major role in facilitating the functions necessary for survival. This includes metabolic regulation, nutrient intake, and reproduction, including improving fertility in conditions of insufficient nutrition. However, the specific molecular mechanisms that enable microbes to control the maturation of the germline (the line of cells within an organism that produces eggs and sperm) are still a mystery.

“We propose that microbes control various stages of oogenesis, leading to the production of eggs in the ovary,” said lead study author Ritsuko Suyama. “They can do this by changing hormone levels and their downstream pathways and therefore improve the host’s fertility in conditions of poor nutrition.”

The researchers investigated the effects of microbes on oogenesis in fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster is a species of flowering plant. Using genetic analysis, the team revealed that the microbes boost oogenesis by accelerating the division of ovarian cells and suppressing programmed cell death, as well as increasing the production of germline stem cells (GSC) by promoting cell division and finally increasing the number of mature eggs. of women.

“We discovered that the improvement of microbes in reproductive function is controlled by the activation of hormonal pathways for ecdysone and juvenile hormones in germline stem cells—the cells that become eggs,” explained Toshie Kai, senior author.

Ecdysone is a steroid hormone that regulates moulting in insects. The researchers found that the ecdysone pathway may be an important mediator for a microbe-induced increase in GSCs and egg maturation. Meanwhile, the juvenile hormone pathway is only involved in GSC proliferation, indicating that hormonal pathways are activated at different stages of oogenesis.

“Our results show that environmental microbes can improve host reproduction by inhibiting hormone release and increasing oogenesis in their hosts,” said Suyama.

These new discoveries about host-microbe interactions may indicate new ways for improving reproductive health, for example through new treatments involving probiotics. Specifically, the findings from this study will contribute to the understanding of how microbes enhance the reproductive processes of their host, which will open the door for new methods to improve fertility and treat infertility. .


The article, “Microbes control Drosophila germline stem cell increase and egg maturation through hormonal pathways,” published in Biology of Communication at DOI: 10.1038/s42003-023-05660-x

About Osaka University

Osaka University was founded in 1931 as one of Japan’s seven imperial universities and is now one of Japan’s leading comprehensive universities with a wide disciplinary spectrum. This energy is accompanied by a singular drive for innovation that spans the entire scientific process, from basic research to the creation of applied technology with a positive economic impact. Its commitment to innovation has been recognized in Japan and around the world, being named the most innovative university in Japan in 2015 (Reuters 2015 Top 100) and one of the most innovative institutions in the world in 2017 (Innovative Universities and the Nature Index Innovation 2017) . Today, Osaka University uses its role as a Designated National University Corporation selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to contribute to innovation for human well-being, sustainable social development, and change. or society.

Website: https://resou.osaka-u.ac.jp/en

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