Age-specific effects of novel mutations in Drosophila melanogaster II. Fecundity and male mating ability

Genetica. 2000;110(1):31-41. doi: 10.1023/a:1017538505627.


Evolutionary theories of senescence assume that mutations with age-specific effects exist, yet until now, there has been little experimental evidence to support this assumption. In this study, we allowed mutations to accumulate in an outbred, wild population of Drosophila melanogaster to test for age-specific differences in both male mating ability and fecundity. We assayed for age-specific effects of mutations after 10, 20, and 30 generations of mutation accumulation. For mating ability, we found the strongest effects of mutations in the first half of the life span after 20 generations, and at nearly all ages by generation 30. These results are qualitatively consistent with results from a companion study in which age-specific mortality was assayed on the same lines of D. melanogaster. By contrast, effects of fecundity were confined to late ages after 20 generations of mutation accumulation, but by generation 30, as with male mating ability, effects of novel mutations were distributed across all age classes. We discuss several possible explanations for the differences that we observe between generations within traits, and among traits, and the relevance for these patterns to models of aging as well as models of mate choice and sexual selection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Fertility / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mutation*
  • Reproduction / genetics*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*