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Science. 1992 Oct 16;258(5081):461-3.

Demography of genotypes: failure of the limited life-span paradigm in Drosophila melanogaster.

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  • 1Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455.


Experimental systems that are amenable to genetic manipulation can be used to address fundamental questions about genetic and nongenetic determinants of longevity. Analysis of large cohorts of ten genotypes of Drosophila melanogaster raised under conditions that favored extended survival has revealed variation between genotypes in both the slope and location of age-specific mortality curves. More detailed examination of a single genotype showed that the mortality trajectory was best fit by a two-stage Gompertz model, with no age-specific increase in mortality rates beyond 30 days after emergence. These results are contrary to the limited life-span paradigm, which postulates well-defined, genotype-specific limits on life-span and brief periods of intense and rapidly accelerating mortality rates at the oldest age.

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