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Ecol Evol. 2011 Dec;1(4):596-600. doi: 10.1002/ece3.54.

"Cost" of virginity in wild Drosophila melanogaster females.

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Division of Biological Sciences, University of California La Jolla, San Diego, California.


Laboratory studies have revealed a significant "cost of mating" to Drosophila melanogaster females in the form of reduced longevity. The effect is attributable to nonsperm components of the ejaculate. Female D. melanogaster are known to mate up to six times in nature, and given that they do not typically remate daily, it raises the question as to the extent to which the longevity of wild mated females is reduced. Here I addressed this question by comparing the longevity of wild virgin females, collected as they emerged from rotting fruit, to the longevity of randomly collected mature females at the same site. Because the randomly collected females all were inseminated and were fully pigmented at the time of collection, they already were older than the virgins when the experiment began. Contrary to expectations from laboratory studies, the older, mated females lived significantly longer than the virgins. Rather than a "cost of mating," there appears to be a "cost of virginity" to female D. melanogaster in the wild.


Costs; drosophila; field; longevity; mating

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