All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Nicole C Riddle

Advisory Committee Members

Peggy Biga

Stacy A Krueger-Hadfield

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science (MS) College of Arts and Sciences


Physical activity is an integral part of health in most organisms; however, depending on the amount and type of physical activity, the results may be either protective or harmful. We see this in human populations where sedentary behaviors can lead to dangerous health conditions while repeated strenuous exercise can lead to long-term damage. Additionally, genetic background and sex influence the physiological response to physical activity, but the exact mechanisms of these interactions are still not well understood. The importance of physical activity patterns extends beyond humans. In model organisms, physical activity has been observed to have many significant impacts in a genotype and sex dependent manner. In natural populations where resources are less abundant, movement patterns have been seen to have an impact on energetics and even parental care in multiple species with some subpopulations at greater risk. Considering the conserved significance of physical activity, this project focuses on its impact to organismal fitness and its interactions with genetics and sex. Using males and females of four wild-type Drosophila melanogaster lines, we induced increased activity for 5 and 20 days early in life. We then measured lifespan, body condition, food consumption, physical activity, physical ability, and reproductive output compared to controls. The results found that genetic background and sex were highly important, but physical ability did influence physical ability, body condition, and offspring count in some subpopulations. Two of the four genotypes were identified as having a greater likelihood of a significant response to treatment, and we found that the two treatment lengths had distinct effects. Often, but not always, the 5-day treatment was more impactful suggesting that the developmental stage may modify the effects. This project demonstrates that genetics and sex contribute to the effects of physical activity and that different physical activity patterns elicit divergent responses in Drosophila. This model can be used to further probe the relationships between physical activity, genetics, and sex and work towards identifying their underlying mechanisms.