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Mech Ageing Dev. 2007 Sep;128(9):477-85. Epub 2007 Jun 20.

Distinct biological epochs in the reproductive life of female Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Genetics and Developmental Biology, School of Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030, United States.


Mating alters the physiology and behavior of female Drosophila melanogaster resulting in a surge of egg laying, a decrease in receptivity to other males, and a decrease in life span. Here, we show striking differences in patterns of Drosophila egg laying and mortality rate dependent upon mating history. Our data reveal previously unreported epochs in the reproductive life of females: optimal, vulnerable and declining-terminal. During the optimal period, mating induces females to respond with a surge in egg laying and has a reversible effect on mortality rate. In contrast, during the vulnerable period, mating does not induce females to respond with a surge in egg laying and causes an irreversible increase in mortality rate. The terminal period was always observed several days before death, irrespective of the chronological age, and is marked by sharp reductions in egg laying. The presence of these distinctive biological epochs may reflect increased female sensitivity to mating due to age-related decline.

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