Slow aging during insect reproductive diapause: why butterflies, grasshoppers and flies are like worms

Exp Gerontol. 2001 Apr;36(4-6):723-38. doi: 10.1016/s0531-5565(00)00238-2.


Diapause is a state of arrested development accompanied by physiology for somatic persistence. Diapause is common in many invertebrates and is familiar to biogerontology in the context of Caenorhabditis elegans dauer. Among insects, diapause may occur in embryos, larvae, pupae or adults. At the adult stage, reproductive diapause arrests development of oogenesis, vitellogenesis, accessory gland activity, and mating behavior. Reproductive diapause has been well studied in monarch butterflies, several grasshoppers, and several Diptera, including Drosophila and Phormia. In monarchs and in grasshoppers, reproductive diapause physiology has been experimentally induced by the surgical removal of the corpora allata, the source of adult juvenile hormone; allatectomy in each case was found to double adult longevity. Among Drosophila, the endemic D. triauraria of Japan, and D. littoralis of Finland over-winter as adults in reproductive diapause. How D. melanogaster winter is poorly understood, but reproductive diapause can be cued by cool temperature. In laboratory studies, the mortality rates of post-diapause D. melanogaster are similar to rates of newly enclosed, young flies. This implies that senescence during diapause is slow or negligible. Slow aging during the diapause period may involve elevated somatic stress resistance as well as reallocation of resources to somatic maintenance. Reproductive diapause in Drosophila is proximally controlled by down regulation of juvenile hormone, a phenotype that is also produced by mutants of the insulin-like receptor InR, homologue of C. elegans daf-2. We propose neuroendocrine control of reproductive diapause in D. melanogaster that includes phenotypic plasticity for rates of senescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Butterflies / metabolism
  • Butterflies / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Grasshoppers / metabolism
  • Grasshoppers / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phenotype
  • Reproduction / physiology