Understanding the link between sexual selection, sexual conflict and aging using crickets as a model
Experimental Gerontology, 4–13 (2015)
Aging evolved because the strength of natural selection declines over the lifetime of most organisms. Weak natural selection late in life allows the accumulation of deleterious mutations and may favor alleles that have positive effects on fitness early in life, but costly pleiotropic effects expressed later on. While this decline in natural selection is central to longstanding evolutionary explanations for aging, a role for sexual selection and sexual conflict in the evolution of lifespan and aging has only been identified recently. Testing how sexual selection and sexual conflict affect lifespan and aging is challenging as it requires quantifying male age-dependent reproductive success. This is difficult in the invertebrate model organisms traditionally used in aging research. Research using crickets (Orthoptera: Gryllidae), where reproductive investment can be easily measured in both sexes, has offered exciting and novel insights into how sexual selection and sexual conflict affect the evolution of aging, both in the laboratory and in the wild. Here we discuss how sexual selection and sexual conflict can be integrated alongside evolutionary and mechanistic theories of aging using crickets as a model. We then highlight the potential for research using crickets to further advance our understanding of lifespan and aging.
Keywords: Geometric Framework of Nutrition; Intralocus sexual conflict; Orthoptera; Oxidative damage; Quantitative genetics; Reactive Oxygen Species