Fathers who eat a lot of sugar will have fat sons. By using the banana fly, Drosophila melanogaster, which has a very short generation time, we have been able to show that if a father has a diet that contains much sugar the epigenetic programs in his sons are changed. These programs regulate the genes needed for i.e. fat production.
We find evidence indicating similar programs in mice and men, but more research is needed. The next question is naturally if epigenetic programs can be reprogrammed in adults. If so, we may eventually develop new therapies for treating obesity. However, more studies are needed to answer this question.
How is information transferred to the next generation?
We have chosen to study how a father’s diet affects the next generation since the information is carried in the sperm or the sperm fluid. What we have seen is that the amount of mRNA varies depending on what the fly has eaten, but we still do not know if it is the difference in mRNA that modulates the epigenetic programmes in the next generation.