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J Insect Physiol. 2006 Sep;52(9):910-9. Epub 2006 Jun 13.

Developmental and age-specific effects of selection on divergent virgin life span on fat content and starvation resistance in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Evolutionary Genetics, University of Groningen, Haren, NL-9751 NN, The Netherlands. <>


Investigations into the genetic basis of longevity variation have shown life span to be positively correlated with starvation resistance and negatively with female fecundity, both of which rely on lipid content. To assess the firmness of this relation, we assayed correlated responses in age-specific relative fat content (RFC) and starvation resistance in lines successfully selected for divergent virgin life span. We have previously demonstrated that genetic differentiation in female fecundity between our selection lines had disappeared during relaxation of selection. Therefore, we also expected genetic differences in lipid content and starvation resistance to have disappeared. However, RFC and starvation resistance were still significantly lower in short-lived flies than in control flies. Surprisingly, also in long-lived flies RFC and starvation resistance were mostly, but not invariably, found to be significantly lower than in control flies. These results indicate that the genetic correlation of RFC and starvation resistance with reproduction has broken down. Furthermore, the relationship between life span and starvation resistance appears to be more complex than previously anticipated. Also, we could demonstrate that differences in RFC were not brought about by differences in lipid accumulation during adult life, but were already present at eclosion. These findings suggest that pre-adult developmental pathways already impact on the rate of ageing of the adult fly.

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