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Adaptation of Drosophila melanogaster to Unfavorable Growth Medium Affects Lifespan and Age-Related Fecundity

E. U. Yakovleva1*, E. B. Naimark2, and A. V. Markov2,3

1Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Economics, 119991 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: e.u.yakovleva@gmail.com

2Paleontological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, 117997 Moscow, Russia

3Lomonosov Moscow State University, Biological Faculty, Department of Biological Evolution, 119991 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: markov_a@inbox.ru

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received July 11, 2016
Experimental adaptation of Drosophila melanogaster to nutrient-deficient starch-based (S) medium resulted in lifespan shortening, increased early-life fecundity, accelerated reproductive aging, and sexually dimorphic survival curves. The direction of all these evolutionary changes coincide with the direction of phenotypic plasticity observed in non-adapted flies cultured on S medium. High adult mortality rate caused by unfavorable growth medium apparently was the main factor of selection during the evolutionary experiment. The results are partially compatible with Williams’ hypothesis, which states that increased mortality rate should result in relaxed selection against mutations that decrease fitness late in life, and thus promote the evolution of shorter lifespan and earlier reproduction. However, our results do not confirm Williams’ prediction that the sex with higher mortality rate should undergo more rapid aging: lifespan shortening by S medium is more pronounced in naïve males than females, but it was female lifespan that decreased more in the course of adaptation. These data, as well as the results of testing of F1 hybrids between adapted and control lineages, are compatible with the idea that the genetic basis of longevity is different in the two sexes, and that evolutionary response to increased mortality rate depends on the degree to which the mortality is selective. Selective mortality can result in the development of longer (rather than shorter) lifespan in the course of evolution. The results also imply that antagonistic pleiotropy of alleles, which increase early-life fecundity at the cost of accelerated aging, played an important role in the evolutionary changes of females in the experimental lineage, while accumulation of deleterious mutations with late-life effects due to drift was more important in the evolution of male traits.
KEY WORDS: experimental evolution, adaptation, lifespan, fecundity, aging, life cycle evolution, evolutionary trade-off

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297916120063