Age-specific inbreeding depression and components of genetic variance in relation to the evolution of senescence

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jun 11;93(12):6140-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.93.12.6140.


Two major theories of the evolution of senescence (mutation accumulation and antagonistic pleiotropy) make different predictions about the relationships between age, inbreeding effects, and the magnitude of genetic variance components of life-history components. We show that, under mutation accumulation, inbreeding decline and three major components of genetic variance are expected to increase with age in randomly mating populations. Under the simplest version of the antagonistic pleiotropy model, no changes in the severity of inbreeding decline, dominance variance, or the genetic variance of chromosomal homozygotes are expected, but additive genetic variance may increase with age. Age-specific survival rates and mating success were measured on virgin males, using lines extracted from a population of Drosophila melanogaster. For both traits, inbreeding decline and several components of genetic variance increase with age. The results are consistent with the mutation accumulation model, but can only be explained by antagonistic pleiotropy if there is a general tendency for an increase with age in the size of allelic effects on these life-history traits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Genetic Variation
  • Inbreeding
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation