Friday, February 17, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Evan Mizerak, Massachusetts Junior Academy of Science, Holden, MA
Studies have shown that high-, low-, and non-fat dairy may potentially act as driving factors in varying fertility rates. Given the escalating difficulty of American women to conceive healthfully, this project focused on how this dietary aspect can impact fertility. Drosophila melanogaster was used as a biological model, and a powdered dairy supplement was added to fly media in three concentrations (high-, low-, and non-fat). Through a multifaceted procedure including pupae and hatched adult counts, as well as a variety of egg-laying assays, the effects of non-, high-, and low-fat dairy intake on reproductive output were determined in both male and female flies. Furthermore, the transgenerational effects of dairy intake were tested in the second generation of flies, which were then dissected to be assessed for any variances in ovary/egg chamber function.

It was determined that high-fat dairy intake in both male and female D. melanogaster yields significantly increased fertility in measures of eggs laid, pupae produced, and adults hatched per female fly. Moreover, the second generation of offspring produced by flies consuming dairy exhibited trends in reproductive output almost identical to those of their parents. However, this second generation consumed no dairy whatsoever, only basal fly media. As further analysis of the effect, a new stock of young flies was fed each concentration of dairy, and subsequently dissected. Flies consuming high-fat dairy exhibited heightened intermediate stage development in their egg chambers, while this effect was nowhere near as prevalent in low- and non-fat flies. This could serve as an indicator of increased stem cell production, quicker stem cell division, or an increase in pole plasm size. Imaging is ongoing at UMass Medical School (Worcester, MA) with a focus on the aforementioned potential factors in increased fertility and epigenetic inheritance.