It’s been known for nearly a century that eating less (and cutting back on protein) prolongs life in organisms ranging from insects to mammals. However, it’s not clear whether this famous life-extending effect of dietary restriction can work under the stressful conditions experienced by animals in the wild.

Dietary protein is important for wound-healing, immunity and thermoregulation—functions that are vital for animals in the wild but much less important in captivity.  Thus, it’s possible that the “dietary restriction effect” is just an artefact of benign lab conditions. Answering this question is essential to understand how the “dietary restriction effect” evolved, and what role it plays in natural environments.  


In neriid flies, we have found that restricting dietary protein prolongs life by 67%. However, we don’t know whether this life-extending effect would still be observed if the flies were subjected to more stressful conditions, such as those experienced in a natural environment.

This project will determine for the first time whether a restricted diet prolongs life under stressful conditions.

Student Benefits 

You’ll conduct cutting-edge research on a high-profile question in evolutionary ecology. Through this project you'll learn how to:

  • Design and carry out experiments
  • Carry out sophisticated statistical analysis
  • Write an influential scientific paper

Honours students in the Bonduriansky lab often publish their work in prestigious journals, such as:

  • The American Naturalist
  • Functional Ecology
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Scientific Reports