Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Inheritance of lifespan is sex-dependent in fruit flies

Date:
September 13, 2013
Source:
Universitaet Bielefeld
Summary:
Like mother, like daughter; like father, like son. Evolutionary biologists have now shown that this proverb also applies to inheriting a long life -- at least for fruit flies (Drosophila). Descendants of these insects mostly inherit their lifespan from their own sex: male descendants will very probably live about as long as their fathers; female descendants, about as long as their mothers.

Like mother, like daughter; like father, like son. Evolutionary biologists at the universities in Bielefeld and Uppsala (Sweden) have now shown that this proverb also applies to inheriting a long life -- at least for fruit flies (Drosophila). The research team found that the descendants of these insects mostly inherit their lifespan from their own sex: male descendants will very probably live about as long as their fathers; female descendants, about as long as their mothers. The scientists are publishing their findings in the journal American Naturalist.

The new study by the German-Swedish research team has turned a previous assumption by biologists and physicians upside down: up to now, they had thought that the genetic risk of a disease was equally strong in both female and male descendants.

The study proceeded from the assumption that the average life expectancy of women and men differs -this may be for genetic reasons but also due to different lifestyles. The German-Swedish research team wanted to find out how far this sex difference in the lifespan depends on the genetic make-up.

To carry out their experiments, the researchers intervened in the heredity of fruit flies by cross-breeding them with special fly mutants. This enabled them to breed 50 hemi-clones; that is, groups of individuals in whom one-half of the genetic make-up is absolutely identical, whereas the other half is completely unrelated. From each hemi-clone, the researchers determined the lifespan of 400 females and 400 males. 'What's special about this approach is that it enables us to measure the influence of this 50 per cent identical genetic make-up in both sexes', says Dr. Holger Schielzeth from the Faculty of Biology -- one of the authors of the study.

The authors then used the data from the hemi-cloned fruit flies to read off how similar the individuals in a hemi-clone are and how far females and males from one hemi-clone share the same lifespan. Results showed that the lifespan was very similar within sexes, whereas the calculated relation between sexes was only slight. Hence, Methuselah genes in the father exert only a limited influence on female descendants -- at least in fruit flies. Vice versa, particularly long-lived females do not necessarily have long-lived brothers, fathers, or sons. Approximately three-quarters of the genetic components of life expectation are effective only within the same sex.

The researchers conclude that the risk of a fatal hereditary disease is passed on above all within the same sex. 'Gene variants that could be problematic for one sex seem to have only a comparatively low influence on the life expectation of the other sex', says Holger Schielzeth. In principle, this finding could also generalize to human beings, because human life expectancy is also hereditary. According to Schielzeth, this sex-specific heredity may also be relevant for medicine, and that therapies should pay more attention to sex-specific risks.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitaet Bielefeld. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anne Lehtovaara, Holger Schielzeth, Ilona Flis, Urban Friberg. Heritability of Life Span Is Largely Sex Limited inDrosophila. The American Naturalist, 2013; 000 DOI: 10.1086/673296

Cite This Page:

Universitaet Bielefeld. "Inheritance of lifespan is sex-dependent in fruit flies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130913085758.htm>.
Universitaet Bielefeld. (2013, September 13). Inheritance of lifespan is sex-dependent in fruit flies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130913085758.htm
Universitaet Bielefeld. "Inheritance of lifespan is sex-dependent in fruit flies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130913085758.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
USDA Cracks Down On Imports From Foreign Puppy Mills

USDA Cracks Down On Imports From Foreign Puppy Mills

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) New USDA measures to regulate dog imports aim to crack down on buying dogs from overseas puppy mills. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bone Marrow Drug Regrows Hair In Some Alopecia Patients

Bone Marrow Drug Regrows Hair In Some Alopecia Patients

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) Researchers performed an experiment using an FDA-approved drug known as ruxolitinib. They found it to be successful in the majority of patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins