Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 399–411 | Cite as

Biological and Behavioral Effects of Heavy Metals in Drosophila melanogaster Adults and Larvae



Heavy metals are essential components of biological systems but are extremely toxic at high doses. As a result, we hypothesized that perception of heavy metals through gustation may exist in Drosophila melanogaster. In this study, we investigated the behavioral effects of iron, copper, zinc, and cadmium on D. melanogaster gustation, oviposition, and pupation-site selection. In addition, we examined the biological effects of heavy metals on the fruit fly survival and reproductive success. Our results illustrate that D. melanogaster responds behaviorally to the presence of high concentrations of heavy metals in food. All metals acted as repellents to the fruit flies at high doses, with the egg-laying and feeding of the female flies significantly decreasing. Furthermore, supplementation of heavy metals in the culture medium reduced survival to the adult stage and shortened the life span of adult flies. From these observations, we speculate that D. melanogaster avoidance behavior towards high concentrations of heavy metals may have a positive effect on their survival and reproductive success in nature, particularly in the presence of metal-contaminated food sources.


Drosophila melanogaster heavy metals behavior survival 



This work was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada to A.J.H.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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