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Published August 4, 2014 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Automated monitoring and quantitative analysis of feeding behaviour in Drosophila


Food ingestion is one of the defining behaviours of all animals, but its quantification and analysis remain challenging. This is especially the case for feeding behaviour in small, genetically tractable animals such as Drosophila melanogaster. Here, we present a method based on capacitive measurements, which allows the detailed, automated and high-throughput quantification of feeding behaviour. Using this method, we were able to measure the volume ingested in single sips of an individual, and monitor the absorption of food with high temporal resolution. We demonstrate that flies ingest food by rhythmically extending their proboscis with a frequency that is not modulated by the internal state of the animal. Instead, hunger and satiety homeostatically modulate the microstructure of feeding. These results highlight similarities of food intake regulation between insects, rodents, and humans, pointing to a common strategy in how the nervous systems of different animals control food intake.

Additional Information

© 2014 The Author(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/ Received 3 Jun 2014 | Accepted 30 Jun 2014 | Published 4 Aug 2014. We thank Thomas R. Clandinin, Jürgen Knoblich, Kristin Scott and and Bruno Lemaitre for sharing fly stocks. We thank Célia Baltazar, Ana Paula Elias and Ana Sofia Valente for technical assistance in running experiments, Matthieu Pasquet and Ricardo Ribeiro for assistance in hardware and acquisition software development and the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência for providing us access to experimental setups. Thomas R. Clandinin, Rui Costa, Samuel Walker and all the members of the Behavior and Metabolism Laboratory for helpful discussions and comments on the manuscript. This project was supported by a Human Frontiers Program Project Grant RGP0022/2012 to M.H.D. and C.R., an Allen Distinguished Investigator award to M.H.D. and the BIAL Foundation grant #167/10 and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) grant PTDC/BIA-BCM/118684/2010 to CR. P.M.I. is supported by the postdoctoral fellowship SFRH/BPD/79325/2011 from the Foundation for Science and Technology, E.V. by the fellowship 193-2012 from the BIAL Foundation and G.L. by the PhD Studentship SFRH/BD/51714/2011 from the Foundation for Science and Technology. The Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme is supported by the Champalimaud Foundation. Author Contributions: P.M.I. and C.R. conceived and developed the project; P.M.I., J.-M.M., G.L., S.S., M.H.D. and C.R. developed hardware and software: P.M.I. and J.-M.M. performed experiments: P.M.I., E.V. and C.R. performed data analysis and interpretation: P.M.I., M.H.D. and C.R. wrote the manuscript. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplemental Material - ncomms5560-s2.mov

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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023