Combating Malnutrition: The Effect of Eggs on the Development, Learning, and Memory of Drosophila melanogaster

By: Gwyneth MacDonough

My project aimed to determine if malnutrition’s effects on development and cognition in Drosophila melanogaster could be reduced by consumption of eggs. I also attempted to find the optimal period for dietary intervention. To conduct my experiment, I reared seven groups of Drosophila on specific combinations of three different diets – malnourished, egg-enriched, and control. I then tested the growth, development, learning, and memory of both the parents and the offspring.

I found that malnourished Drosophila experienced decreased development and cognition compared to control Drosophila, but consuming eggs reduced malnutrition’s negative effects. These effects were also observed in the offspring. I also found that childhood diet impacted cognition more than adulthood diet. My results suggest that intervention programs introducing eggs into the diet will likely have the most impact if introduced primarily to children and pregnant mothers. With proper government intervention, increasing egg consumption in childhood could provide a method to combat the effects of malnutrition in developing countries.

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