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THE EXPERIMENTAL EVOLUTION OF AGING IN FRUITFLIES STEPHEN C. STEARNS, MARTIN ACKERMANN and MICHAEL DOEBELI
 

Summary: THE EXPERIMENTAL EVOLUTION OF AGING IN FRUITFLIES
STEPHEN C. STEARNS, MARTIN ACKERMANN and MICHAEL DOEBELI
Zoology Institute, University of Basel, Rheinsprung 9, CH-4051 Basel, Switzerland
Abstract--The evolutionary theory of aging suggests that the level of repair will evolve to
an intermediate optimum that permits the accumulation of random damage to cells. This, in
turn, causes a decline in essential functions during the life span of an organism. The central
claim of the life history theory of aging is that intrinsic mortality rates evolve in response to
changes in extrinsic mortality rates. To prove this central claim, it must be evaluated
experimentally. Experimental evolution is an approach that has been yielding interesting
results from both a variety of questions posed and organisms examined. In this article the
organism chosen for study is the fruitfly (Drosophilia melanogaster) in which the evolution-
ary effects of high and low adult mortality rates are compared. It has been found that higher
extrinsic mortality rates lead to the evolution of higher intrinsic mortality rates and a shorter
life span. This is the first clear experimental demonstration of the central claim of the
evolutionary theory of aging. © 1998 Elsevier Science Inc.
Key Words: evolution, aging, Drosophila
INTRODUCTION
AGING IS part of the evolution of the whole life cycle, from birth to reproduction to death, which
is studied in the part of evolutionary biology called life history evolution (Roff 1992; Stearns
1992). Life histories result from the interaction of extrinsic mortality rates with intrinsic

  

Source: Ackermann, Martin - Institut für Integrative Biologie, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ)
Doebeli, Michael - Departments of Zoology & Mathematics, University of British Columbia

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine