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Inheritance of lifespan is sex-dependent in fruit flies
Date:9/13/2013

This news release is available in German.

Like mother, like daughter; like father, like son. Evolutionary biologists at the universities in Bielefeld (Germany) 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 have published their findings on Thursday 12 September in the renowned journal American Naturalist".

The new study by the GermanSwedish 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 GermanSwedish 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 Schielze
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Contact: Dr. Holger Schielzeth
holger.schielzeth@uni-bielefeld.de
49-521-106-2820
University of Bielefeld
Source:Eurekalert

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