Class Year




Document Type


Distinguished Thesis


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department or Program


First Advisor

Alexander W. Shingleton

Second Advisor

Karen E. Kirk

Third Advisor

R. Scott Schappe


In almost all animals, hypoxia during development – a deficiency in physiological levels of oxygen – slows growth and reduces final body size. Despite the ubiquity of this phenomenon, however, the developmental mechanisms by which oxygen levels affect growth are largely unknown. Here we present compelling evidence that the effect of hypoxia on growth rate is regulated systemically, in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. We tested the hypothesis that elevated ecdysone is necessary for growth suppression in hypoxic conditions, by comparing the growth rate of larvae with and without ecdysone in normoxic (21% O2) and hypoxic (10% O2) conditions. Consistent with our hypothesis, we found that loss of ecdysone significantly rescued growth rate in hypoxic conditions. These data indicate that the effects of hypoxia on body size can occur as a programmed inhibition of growth, possibly as a means to respond to low oxygen levels in a controlled and coordinated manner.

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