Dietary antioxidant vitamin C influences the evolutionary path of insecticide resistance in Drosophila melanogaster

Jingfei Huang, Weilin Sun, Keon Mook Seong, Omprakash Mittapalli, James Ojo, Brad Coates, Ken N. Paige, John M. Clark, Barry Robert Pittendrigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Herbivorous insects encounter a variety of toxic environmental substances ranging from ingested plant defensive compounds to human-introduced insecticidal agents. Dietary antioxidants are known to reduce the negative physiological impacts of toxins in mammalian systems through amelioration of reactive oxygen-related cellular damage. The analogous impacts to insects caused by multigenerational exposure to pesticides and the effects on adaptive responses within insect populations, however, are currently unknown. To address these research gaps, we used Drosophila as a model system to explore adaptive phenotypic responses to acute dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) exposure in the presence of the dietary antioxidant vitamin C and to examine the structural genomic consequences of this exposure. DDT resistance increased significantly among four replicates exposed to a low concentration of DDT for 10 generations. In contrast, dietary intake of vitamin C significantly reduced DDT resistance after mutigenerational exposure to the same concentration of DDT. As to the genomic consequences, no significant differences were predicted in overall nucleotide substitution rates across the genome between any of the treatments. Despite this, replicates exposed to a low concentration of DDT without vitamin C showed the highest number of synonymous and non-synonymous variants (3196 in total), followed by the DDT plus vitamin C (1174 in total), and vitamin C alone (728 in total) treatments. This study demonstrates the potential role of diet (specifically, antioxidant intake) on adaptive genome responses, and thus on the evolution of pesticide resistance within insect populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104631
JournalPesticide Biochemistry and Physiology
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • DDT
  • DNA variant
  • Vitamin C
  • Whole-genome resequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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