Males Shorten the Life Span of C. elegans Hermaphrodites via Secreted Compounds

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Science  28 Nov 2013:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1244160

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How the longevity of individuals of one sex is affected by those of the opposite sex is still largely unclear. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the presence of males accelerated aging and shortened the life span of individuals of the opposite sex (hermaphrodites), including long-lived or sterile hermaphrodites. The male-induced demise could occur without mating and required only exposure of hermaphrodites to medium in which males were once present. Such communication through pheromones or other diffusible substances points to a nonindividual autonomous mode of aging regulation. The male-induced demise also occurred in other species of nematodes, suggesting an evolutionary conserved process whereby males may induce the disposal of the opposite sex to save resources for the next generation or to prevent competition from other males.

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