Smelling Their Way to an Early Grave

Science's STKE  27 Feb 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 375, pp. tw71
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3752007tw71

When animals are reared on a near-starvation diet, they live much longer than those that eat freely. Even the fruit fly Drosophila has this reaction to a low-glucose diet and lives considerable longer on a 5% than on a 15% sugar-yeast diet. This effect of dietary restriction is easily reversed when flies consume more food. Libert et al. report a less expected effect: Just the smell of the flies’ food (yeast) can inhibit some of the effects of dietary restriction and shorten the flies’ life span by 6 to 18%. Flies lacking an essential part of their odor receptors, which have greatly impaired senses of smell, live longer than flies with intact odor sensation.

S. Libert, J. Zwiener, X. Chu, W. VanVoorhies, G. Roman, S. D. Pletcher, Regulation of Drosophila life span by olfaction and food-derived odors. Science 315, 1133-1137 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]

M. Leslie, Odor of food hastens dieting flies’ deaths. Science 315, 584 (2007). [Summary] [Full Text]