Spotting the differences: probing host/microbiota interactions with a dedicated software tool for the analysis of faecal outputs in Drosophila.
Wayland MT., Defaye A., Rocha J., Jayaram SA., Royet J., Miguel-Aliaga I., Leulier F., Cognigni P.
The intestinal physiology of Drosophila melanogaster can be monitored in an integrative, non-invasive manner by analysing graphical features of the excreta produced by flies fed on a dye-supplemented diet. This assay has been used by various labs to explore gut function and its regulation. To facilitate its use, we present here a free, stand-alone dedicated software tool for the analysis of fly excreta. The Ultimate Reader of Dung (T.U.R.D.) is designed to offer a flexible environment for a wide range of experimental designs, with special attention to automation and high-throughput processing. This software detects the distinctive changes in acid-base and water balance previously reported to occur in response to dietary challenges and mating. We have used T.U.R.D. to test the contribution of the bacterial environment of the flies to various intestinal parameters including the established diet- and mating-triggered responses. To this end, we have analysed the faecal patterns of flies reared in germ-free conditions, upon re-association with controlled microbiota and subjected to food-borne or systemic, non-lethal bacterial infections. We find that the tested faecal outputs are unchanged in all these conditions, suggesting that the impact of the bacterial environment on the intestinal features highlighted by faecal deposit analysis is minimal.