High carbohydrate consumption increases lipid storage and promotes migratory flight in locusts

Stav Talal, Shivam Parmar, Geoffrey M. Osgood, Jon F. Harrison, Arianne J. Cease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Migration allows animals to track favorable environments and avoid harmful conditions. However, migration is energetically costly, so migrating animals must prepare themselves by increasing their energy stores. Despite the importance of locust migratory swarms, we still understand little about the physiology of locust migration. During long-distance flight, locusts rely on lipid oxidation, despite the fact that lipids are relatively rare in their leaf-based diets. Therefore, locusts and other insect herbivores synthesize and store lipid from ingested carbohydrates, which are also important for initial flight. These data suggest that diets high in carbohydrate should increase lipid stores and the capacity for migratory flight in locusts. As predicted, locust lipid stores and flight performance increased with an increase in the relative carbohydrate content in their food. However, locust flight termination was not associated with complete lipid depletion. We propose potential testable mechanisms that might explain how macronutrient consumption can affect flight endurance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalThe Journal of experimental biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023


  • Energy stores
  • Flight endurance
  • Locusts
  • Macronutrients
  • Migration
  • Nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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