Journal Article

The evolution of age-specific mortality rates in drosophila melanogaster: genetic divergence among unselected lines

Pletcher, S. D., Houle, D., Curtsinger, J. W.
Genetics, 153:2, 813–823 (1999)


Age-specific effects of spontaneous mutations on mortality rates in Drosophila are inferred from three large demographic experiments. Data were collected from inbred lines that were allowed to accumulate spontaneous mutations for 10, 19, and 47 generations. Estimates of age-specific mutational variance for mortality were based on data from all three experiments, totalling ~225,000 flies, using a model developed for genetic analysis of age-dependent traits (the character process model). Both within- and among-generation analyses suggest that the input of genetic variance is greater for early life mortality rates than for mortality at older ages. In females, age-specific mutational variances ranged over an order of magnitude from 5.96 x 10-3 at 2 wk posteclosion to 0.02 x 10-3 at 7 wk. The male data show a similar pattern. Age-specific genetic variances were substantially less at generation 47 than at generation 19—an unexplained observation that is likely due to block effects. Mutational correlations among mortality rates at different ages tend to increase with the accumulation of new mutations. Comparison of the mutation-accumulation lines at generations 19 and 47 with their respective control lines suggests little age-specific mutational bias. (© 1999 BY THE GENETICS SOCIETY OF AMERICA)
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