Age-specific effects of novel mutations in Drosophila melanogaster I. Mortality

Genetica. 2000;110(1):11-29. doi: 10.1023/a:1017582625191.


Theories for the evolution of aging rest on the assumption that at least some deleterious mutations have effects that are limited to certain ages. Many mutation accumulation studies have tried to measure the number and magnitude of deleterious mutations, but few studies have tried to determine the extent to which the effects of mutations are limited to particular ages. Here we estimate the age-specific effect of deleterious mutations on mortality rate in an outbred population of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. We used the 'middle class neighborhood' approach to accumulation mutations in populations of flies that had recently been obtained from the wild. There are mutations that increase mortality rates, but whose effects are limited to specific ages. The age-specificity of mutational effects differs between the sexes, between virgin and mated flies, and over time. After 10 and 20 generations of mutation accumulation, there were clear age-specific effects of mutations. After 30 generations, however, the degree of age-specificity decreased. In addition, mutation accumulation led to a steady increase in larval mortality and a small but significant increase in the sex ratio of eclosing flies. We discuss the implications of these results for models of aging, and suggest approaches that future studies should take to obtain accurate information on the age-specificity of novel mutations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Larva / physiology
  • Mutation*
  • Reproduction
  • Sex Ratio