PerspectiveDevelopment

Chemical Warfare in the Battle of the Sexes

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Science  31 Jan 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6170, pp. 491-492
DOI: 10.1126/science.1250174

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Summary

It may not be a complete surprise to learn that prolonged exposure to the opposite sex could be detrimental to your health. This is certainly true for some invertebrates, such as nematode worms and fruit flies (1, 2). In this issue, Shi et al. (3) on page 536 and Maures et al. (4) on page 541 provide important new insights into the genetic and molecular processes that account for “male-induced demise” in worms. The battle of the sexes goes both ways, however, and on page 544, Gendron et al. (5) report that female-produced pheromones in the fruit fly can have similar detrimental effects on longevity and other age-related traits in male flies. Together, these studies pose some interesting evolutionary questions that touch on sex, death, and aging.