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Testing whether male age or high nutrition causes the cessation of reproductive aging in female Drosophila melanogaster populations.

  • Author(s): Rauser, Casandra L;
  • Hong, Justin S;
  • Cung, Michelle B;
  • Pham, Kathy M;
  • Mueller, Laurence D;
  • Rose, Michael R
  • et al.

Fecundity seems to stop declining and plateaus at low levels very late in Drosophila melanogaster populations. Here we test whether this apparent cessation of reproductive aging by a population, herein referred to as fecundity plateaus, is robust under various environmental influences: namely, male age and nutrition. The effect of male age on late age fecundity patterns was tested by supplying older females with young males before average population fecundity declined to plateau levels. The second possible environmental influence we tested was nutrition and whether late-life fecundity plateaus arise from a decline in the calories available for reproduction. This hypothesis was tested by comparing average daily female fecundity with both low- and high-lifetime nutrition. Both hypotheses were tested by measuring mid- and late-life fecundity for each cohort under the various environmental influences, and statistically testing whether fecundity stops declining and plateaus at late ages. These experiments demonstrate that mid- and late-life population fecundity patterns are significantly affected by the age of males and nutrition level. However, male age and nutrition level did not affect the existence of late-life fecundity plateaus, which demonstrates the robustness of our earlier findings. These results do not address any issue pertaining to the possible role, if any, of lifelong inter-individual heterogeneity in Drosophila fecundity.

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