Gender separation increases somatic growth in females but does not affect lifespan in Nothobranchius furzeri

PLoS One. 2010 Aug 3;5(8):e11958. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011958.


According to life history theory, physiological and ecological traits and parameters influence an individual's life history and thus, ultimately, its lifespan. Mating and reproduction are costly activities, and in a variety of model organisms, a negative correlation of longevity and reproductive effort has been demonstrated. We are employing the annual killifish Nothobranchius furzeri as a vertebrate model for ageing. N. furzeri is the vertebrate displaying the shortest known lifespan in captivity with particular strains living only three to four months under optimal laboratory conditions. The animals show explosive growth, early sexual maturation and age-dependent physiological and behavioural decline. Here, we have used N. furzeri to investigate a potential reproduction-longevity trade-off in both sexes by means of gender separation. Though female reproductive effort and offspring investment were significantly reduced after separation, as investigated by analysis of clutch size, eggs in the ovaries and ovary mass, the energetic surplus was not reallocated towards somatic maintenance. In fact, a significant extension of lifespan could not be observed in either sex. This is despite the fact that separated females, but not males, grew significantly larger and heavier than the respective controls. Therefore, it remains elusive whether lifespan of an annual species evolved in periodically vanishing habitats can be prolonged on the cost of reproduction at all.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Cyprinodontiformes / growth & development*
  • Cyprinodontiformes / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Longevity*
  • Male
  • Oviposition / physiology
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology