House flies (Musca domestica) feed on fluids from various substrates. Their proboscis contains prestomal teeth (tooth-like structures), which are thought to function as a tool to expose fluids when feeding. It has been shown that other arthropods have the ability to sequester metal to specific body regions for increased fitness. Therefore, we hypothesize that M. domestica have the ability to sequester zinc into their their prestomal teeth for greater rigidity and better access to liquids, which could result in increased fitness. To test our hypothesis we raised larvae in three diets with 3 mg, 1 mg, and 0.5 mg of zinc per gram of diet. Once the larvae emerged as adults, the prestomal teeth were analyzed through EDS using a scanning electron microscope.
Kentlyn Weaver is a fourth year Biology Pre-med student at Kent State Stark. He works on campus as a math and science tutor and has spent several semesters researching fly and butterfly mouthparts in Dr. Lehnert’s laboratory. Kent is planning to attend Veterinary school where he will study food animals and potentially enroll in a dual Ph.D DVM program.