Complex genetic architecture of population differences in adult lifespan of a beetle: nonadditive inheritance, gender differences, body size and a large maternal effect

J Evol Biol. 2004 Sep;17(5):1007-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2004.00752.x.


Evolutionary responses to selection can be complicated when there is substantial nonadditivity, which limits our ability to extrapolate from simple models of selection to population differentiation and speciation. Studies of Drosophila melanogaster indicate that lifespan and the rate of senescence are influenced by many genes that have environment- and sex-specific effects. These studies also demonstrate that interactions among alleles (dominance) and loci (epistasis) are common, with the degree of interaction differing between the sexes and among environments. However, little is known about the genetic architecture of lifespan or mortality rates for organisms other than D. melanogaster. We studied genetic architecture of differences in lifespan and shapes of mortality curves between two populations of the seed beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus (South India and Burkina Faso populations). These two populations differ in various traits (such as body size and adult lifespan) that have likely evolved via host-specific selection. We found that the genetic architecture of lifespan differences between populations differs substantially between males and females; there was a large maternal effect on male lifespan (but not on female lifespan), and substantial dominance of long-life alleles in females (but not males). The large maternal effect in males was genetically based (there was no significant cytoplasmic effect) likely due to population differences in maternal effects genes that influence lifespan of progeny. Rearing host did not affect the genetic architecture of lifespan, and there was no evidence that genes on the Y-chromosome influence the population differences in lifespan. Epistatic interactions among loci were detectable for the mortality rate of both males and females, but were detectable for lifespan only after controlling for body size variation among lines. The detection of epistasis, dominance, and sex-specific genetic effects on C. maculatus lifespan is consistent with results from line cross and quantitative trait locus studies of D. melanogaster.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Size / genetics
  • Burkina Faso
  • Coleoptera / genetics*
  • Coleoptera / physiology
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Epistasis, Genetic
  • Fabaceae
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • India
  • Inheritance Patterns / genetics
  • Longevity / genetics*
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Sex Factors