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Proc Biol Sci. 2005 Dec 7;272(1580):2485-9.

Adaptive male effects on female ageing in seed beetles.

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  • 1Uppsala University Animal Ecology/Department of Ecology and Evolution Norbyvägen 18D, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden.


Selection can favour the evolution of a high reproductive rate early in life even when this results in a subsequent increase in the rate of mortality, because selection is relatively weak late in life. However, the optimal reproductive schedule of a female may be suboptimal to any one of her mates, and males may thus be selected to modulate female reproductive rate. Owing to such sexual conflict, coevolution between males and females may contribute to the evolution of senescence. By using replicated beetle populations selected for reproduction at an early or late age, we show that males evolve to affect senescence in females in a manner consistent with the genetic interests of males. 'Late' males evolved to decelerate senescence and increase the lifespan of control females, relative to 'early' males. Our findings demonstrate that adaptive evolution in one sex may involve its effects on senescence in the other, showing that the evolution of optimal life histories in one sex may be either facilitated or constrained by genes expressed in the other.

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