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Genetics. 2005 Jan;169(1):231-42. Epub 2004 Sep 30.

Longevity and metabolism in Drosophila melanogaster: genetic correlations between life span and age-specific metabolic rate in populations artificially selected for long life.

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Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA.


We measured age-specific metabolic rates in 2861 individual Drosophila melanogaster adult males to determine how genetic variation in metabolism is related to life span. Using recombinant inbred (RI) lines derived from populations artificially selected for long life, resting metabolic rates were measured at 5, 16, 29, and 47 days posteclosion, while life spans were measured in the same genotypes in mixed-sex population cages and in single-sex vials. We observed much heritable variation between lines in age-specific metabolic rates, evidence for genotype x age interaction, and moderate to large heritabilities at all ages except the youngest. Four traits exhibit evidence of coordinate genetic control: day 16 and day 29 metabolic rates, life span in population cages, and life span in vials. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) for those traits map to the same locations on three major chromosomes, and additive genetic effects are all positively correlated. In contrast, metabolic rates at the youngest and oldest ages are unrelated to metabolic rates at other ages and to survival. We suggest that artificial selection for long life via delayed reproduction also selects for increased metabolism at intermediate ages. Contrary to predictions of the "rate of living" theory, we find no evidence that metabolic rate varies inversely with survival, at the level of either line means or additive effects of QTL.

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