The song of the old mother: reproductive senescence in female drosophila.


Among animals with multiple reproductive episodes, changes in adult condition over time can have profound effects on lifetime reproductive fitness and offspring performance. The changes in condition associated with senescence can be particularly acute for females who support reproductive processes from oogenesis through fertilization. The pomace fly Drosophila melanogaster is a well-established model system for exploring the physiology of reproduction and senescence. In this review, we describe how increasing maternal age in Drosophila affects reproductive fitness and offspring performance as well as the genetic foundation of these effects. Describing the processes underlying female reproductive senescence helps us understand diverse phenomena including population demographics, condition-dependent selection, sexual conflict, and transgenerational effects of maternal condition on offspring fitness. Understanding the genetic basis of reproductive senescence clarifies the nature of life-history trade-offs as well as potential ways to augment and/or limit female fertility in a variety of organisms.

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