Stochastic dietary restriction using a Markov-chain feeding protocol elicits complex, life history response in medflies
Lifespan in individually housed medflies (virgins of both sexes) and daily reproduction for females were studied following one of 12 dietary restriction (DR) treatments in which the availability of high-quality food (yeast–sugar mixture) for each fly was based on a Markov chain feeding scheme – a stochastic dietary regime which specifies that the future dietary state depends only on the present dietary state and not on the path by which the present state was achieved. The stochastic treatments consisted of a combination of one of four values of a ‘discovery’ parameter and one of three values of a ‘persistence’ parameter. The results supported the hypotheses that: (i) longevity is extended in most medfly cohorts subject to stochastic DR; and (ii) longevity is more affected by the patch discovery than the patch persistence parameter. One of the main conclusions of the study is that, in combination with the results of earlier dietary restriction studies on the medfly, the results reinforce the concept that the details of the dietary restriction protocols have a profound impact on the sign and magnitude of the longevity extension relative to ad libitum cohorts and that a deeper understanding of the effect of food restriction on longevity is not possible without an understanding of its effect on reproduction.