PerspectiveEvolutionary Biology

Sex and Death

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Science  24 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5449, pp. 2458-2459
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5449.2458

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It is well known that reproduction entails an energy cost that translates into a decrease in longevity. In a Perspective, Reznick and Ghalambor review new findings (Sgró and Partridge) that demonstrate how reproduction affects mortality. The new study looks at the differences in death rates between "young" and "old" lines of flies (selected for a shorter and longer lifespan, respectively), which were able to lay eggs or were rendered sterile. Among egg-laying lines, young flies underwent a wave of mortality at the onset of aging that was not seen in the old lines. Abrogation of egg-laying capabilities resulted in similar mortality rates for the young and old lines.