Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Inheritance of lifespan is sex-dependent in fruit flies

13.09.2013
Researchers from Bielefeld and Uppsala publish joint study

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 on Thursday 12 September in the renowned 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.

Original publication:
Anne Lehtovaara, Holger Schielzeth, Ilona Flis, and Urban Friberg: Heritability of lifespan is largely sex-limited in Drosophila, American Naturalist, http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/673296, published online on 12 September 2013.

http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/(en)/biologie/Evolutionsbiologie/04-schielzeth.html

Contact:
Dr. Holger Schielzeth, Bielefeld University
Faculty of Biology, Department of Evolutionary Biology
Telephone: 0049 521 106-2820
Email: holger.schielzeth@uni-bielefeld.de

Ingo Lohuis | idw
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/673296
http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/(en)/biologie/Evolutionsbiologie/04-schielzeth.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>