The Effect of Aspartame & Sodium Nitrite on Drosophila melanogaster

Friday, 13 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Isabella R. Gomez, Central City High School, Central City, NE
This project concerns the effects of food additives on life history traits of Drosophila melanogaster.  The additives that I chose to test were sodium nitrite and aspartame, which have shown negative effects on living organisms.  Sodium nitrite is commonly used in meat as a food coloring agent to produce the red color that the consumer sees.  Without it, hot dogs and bacon would look grey and the flavor would not be as appealing.  Aspartame is an artificial sweetener, most commonly used in soft drinks, breakfast cereals, and diet foods. I was interested in testing food additives because they are present in my everyday life and I wanted to know more about their effects.  I chose to use D. melanogaster because they are very similar to humans genetically.  I hypothesized that when sodium nitrite or aspartame is added to food, lifespan would decrease, geotaxis would be slower, and fecundity would decrease. I mixed sodium nitrite or aspartame with D. melanogaster medium, took data, and replaced the food every three days.   Geotaxis was negatively affected in the sodium nitrite medium, but there was no effect from the aspartame medium.  The lifespan of the drosophila in the sodium nitrite medium was much less than the D. melanogaster in the control and aspartame mediums.  The sodium nitrite also had a negative effect on the fecundity; therefore the hypothesis was supported by the data.  This research is beneficial because it may provide information for people to consider about the food they consume.