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Publications filtered by: Longevity

Transgenerational effects of maternal sexual interactions in seed beetles
Zajitschek, S. R. K., Dowling, D. K., Head, M. L., Rodriguez-Exposito, E. & Garcia-Gonzalez, F. 2018 Transgenerational effects of maternal sexual interactions in seed beetles Heredity, 121: 282-291

Mating often bears large costs to females, especially in species with high levels of sexual conflict over mating rates. Given the direct costs to females associated with multiple mating, which include reductions in lifespan and lifetime reproductive success, past research focused on identifying potential indirect benefits (through increases in offspring fitness) that females may accrue. Far less attention has, however, been devoted to understanding how costs of sexual interactions to females may extend across generations. Hence, little is known about the transgenerational implications of variation in mating rates, or the net consequences of maternal sexual activities across generations. Using the seed beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus, a model system for the study of sexual conflict, we investigate the effects of mating with multiple males versus a single male, and tease apart effects due to sexual harassment and those due to mating per se, over three generations. A multigenerational analysis indicated that females that were exposed to ongoing sexual harassment and who also were permitted to mate with multiple males showed no difference in net fitness compared to females that mated just once without ongoing harassment. Intriguingly, however, females that were continually harassed, but permitted to mate just once, suffered a severe decline in net fitness compared to females that were singly (not harassed) or multiply mated (harassed, but potentially gaining benefits via mating with multiple males). Overall, the enhanced fitness in multiply mated compared to harassed females may indicate that multiple mating confers transgenerational benefits. These benefits may counteract, but do not exceed (i.e., we found no difference between singly and multiply mated females), the large transgenerational costs of harassment. Our study highlights the importance of examining transgenerational effects from an inclusive (looking at both indirect benefits but also costs) perspective, and the need to investigate transgenerational effects across several generations if we are to fully understand the consequences of sexual interactions, sexual conflict evolution, and the interplay of sexual conflict and multi-generational costs and benefits.

Travers, L. M., Garcia-Gonzalez, F. & Simmons, L. W. 2015 Live fast die young life history in females: evolutionary trade-off between early life mating and lifespan in female Drosophila melanogaster Scientific Reports, 5: 15469

The trade-off between survival and reproduction is fundamental to life history theory. Sexual selection is expected to favour a live fast die young life history pattern in males due to increased risk of extrinsic mortality associated with obtaining mates. Sexual conflict may also drive a genetic trade-off between reproduction and lifespan in females. We found significant additive genetic variance in longevity independent of lifetime mating frequency, and in early life mating frequency. There was significant negative genetic covariance between these traits indicating that females from families characterized by high levels of multiple mating early in life die sooner than females that engage in less intense early life mating.  Thus, despite heritable variation in both traits, their independent evolution is constrained by an evolutionary trade-off. Our findings indicate that, in addition to the well-known male-driven direct costs of mating on female lifespan (mediated by male harassment and the harmful effects of male seminal fluids), females with a genetic propensity to mate multiply live shorter lives. We discuss the potential role of sexual conflict in driving the evolutionary trade-off between reproduction and lifespan in Drosophila. More generally, our data show that, like males, females can exhibit a live fast die young life history strategy.

Male-induced costs of mating for females compensated by offspring viability benefits in an insect
Garcia-Gonzalez, F. & Simmons, L. W. 2010 Male-induced costs of mating for females compensated by offspring viability benefits in an insect Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 23: 2066-2075
Sexual conflict facilitates the evolution of traits that increase the reproductive success of males at the expense of components of female fitness. Theory suggests that indirect benefits are unlikely to offset the direct costs to females from antagonistic male adaptations, but empirical studies examining the net fitness pay-offs of the interaction between the sexes are scarce. Here, we investigate whether matings with males that invest intrinsically more into accessory gland tissue undermine female lifetime reproductive success (LRS) in the cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus. We found that females incur a longevity cost of mating that is proportional to the partner’s absolute investment into the production of accessory gland products. However, male accessory gland weight positively influences embryo survival, and harmful ejaculate-induced effects are cancelled out when these are put in the context of female LRS. The direct costs of mating with males that sire offspring with higher viability are thus compensated by direct and possibly indirect genetic benefits in this species.
Harm to females increases with male body size in Drosophila melanogaster
Pitnick, S. & Garcia-Gonzalez, F. 2002 Harm to females increases with male body size in Drosophila melanogaster Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 269: 1821-1828

Previous studies indicate that female Drosophila melanogaster are harmed by their mates through copulation. Here, we demonstrate that the harm that males inflict upon females increases with male size. Specifically, both the lifespan and egg-production rate of females decreased significantly as an increasing function of the body size of their mates. Consequently, females mating with larger males had lower lifetime fitness. The detrimental effect of male size on female longevity was not mediated by male effects on female fecundity, egg-production rate or female-remating behaviour. Similarly, the influence of male size on female lifetime fecundity was independent of the male-size effect on female longevity. There was no relationship between female size and female resistance to male harm. Thus, although increasing male body size is known to enhance male mating success, it has a detrimental effect on the direct fitness of their mates. Our results indicate that this harm is a pleiotropic effect of some other selected function and not an adaptation. To the extent that females prefer to mate with larger males, this choice is harmful, a pattern that is consistent with the theory of sexually antagonistic coevolution.

Maternal sexual interactions affect offspring survival and ageing
Dowling, D. K., Williams, B. R., and Garcia-Gonzalez, F. 2014 Maternal sexual interactions affect offspring survival and ageing Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 27: 88-97

In many species, females exposed to increased sexual activity experience reductions in longevity. Here, in Drosophila melanogaster, we report an additional effect on females brought about by sexual interactions; an effect that spans generations. We subjected females to a sexual treatment consisting of different levels of sexual activity, and then investigated patterns of mortality in their offspring. We found reduced probabilities of survival, increases in the rate-of-senescence, and a pattern of reduced mean longevities, for offspring produced by mothers that experienced higher levels of sexual interaction. We contend that these effects constitute trans-generational costs of sexual conflict – the existence or implications of which have rarely been considered previously. Our results indicate that ongoing exposure by mothers to male pre-copulatory interactions is itself sufficient to drive trans-generational effects on offspring mortality. Thus, we show that increases in maternal sexual activity can produce trans-generational effects that permeate through to latter life-stages in the offspring. This helps to elucidate the complex interplay between sex and ageing, and provides new insights into the dynamics of adaptation under sexual selection.