Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mating without males decreases lifespan

26.02.2016

Pristionchus nematodes come in two varieties: Most species consist of typical males and females, but in several species the females have evolved the ability to produce and use their own sperm for reproduction. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, discovered that these so called hermaphrodites have shorter lifespans, with females frequently living over twice as long as closely related hermaphrodites.

The ways that males and females interact affects many biological processes, including the evolution of important traits like lifespan and the rate of ageing. While the male-female mating system is found in most vertebrates, and all mammals—many animal species employ alternative arrangements.


A mating pair of Pristionchus roundworms. Colored Scanning Electron Microscopy image

Jürgen Berger/ Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology

Professor Ralf Sommer and Dr. Cameron Weadick from the Max Planck Institute of Developmental Biology are doing research on the evolutionary consequences of such differences.

They wanted to find out if self-fertilizing hermaphrodite nematodes would evolve to live longer, healthier lives; or if they would evolve shorter life cycles, characterized by quick bursts of reproduction followed by senescent decay. By comparing species that utilize different mating systems, it’s possible to see how much of a role sexual interactions play in shaping life-history evolution.

The researchers measured adult lifespan in females and hermaphrodites from eleven different Pristionchus nematode (roundworm) species. They discovered that hermaphrodites, which fertilize their own eggs with their own sperm, live significantly shorter than their female relatives.

Importantly, lifespan did not correlate with the number of offspring, indicating that the lifespan differences between females and hermaphrodites aren’t simply due to a trade-off between living long and investing in reproduction.

There are various possible reasons for the differences in lifespan. Hermaphrodites start reproducing earlier in life, as they produce sperm before adulthood, but females have to invest time to find males to mate with. Another reason relates to the costs of mating: Males can damage females during mating, and the females may need to be built especially strong in order to tolerate this, leading to the evolution of females capable of living for a long time.

Finally, decreased lifespan in hermaphrodites may be a consequence of inbreeding, which can impede natural selection and lead to the accumulation of damaging mutations. These mechanisms are not mutually exclusive, and a key challenge for future work will be to determine the relative contributions of each process. "We want to investigate the connection between survival and the mating system.

Our results set the stage for future work on the genetic basis of differences in lifespan.”, says Weadick. Apart from Pristionchus nematodes, the relation between self-fertilization and lifespan has only been investigated in plants so far. The comparison with other species might help to identifying genes that are associated with the evolution of lifespan. (Adapted from: American Society of Naturalists)

Original Publication:
Mating System Transitions Drive Life Span Evolution in Pristionchus Nematodes
http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/685283

Press contact:
Prof. Dr. Ralf Sommer
Phone: 07071 601- 441
E-mail: ralf.sommer@tuebingen.mpg.de

Nadja Winter (PR Officer)
Phone: +49 7071 601- 444
E-mail: presse-eb@tuebingen.mpg.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/685283

Nadja Winter | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>