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:
Ingo Lohuis | idw
Microscope measures muscle weakness
16.11.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Good preparation is half the digestion
16.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences