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Disposable Soma Theory and the Evolution of Maternal Effects on Ageing.

Author:
  • Joost van den Heuvel
  • Sinead English
  • Tobias Uller
Publishing year: 2016
Language: English
Publication/Series: PLoS One
Volume: 11
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Public Library of Science

Abstract english

Maternal effects are ubiquitous in nature and affect a wide range of offspring phenotypes. Recent research suggests that maternal effects also contribute to ageing, but the theoretical basis for these observations is poorly understood. Here we develop a simple model to derive expectations for (i) if maternal effects on ageing evolve; (ii) the strength of maternal effects on ageing relative to direct environmental effects; and (iii) the predicted relationships between environmental quality, maternal age and offspring lifespan. Our model is based on the disposable soma theory of ageing, and the key assumption is thus that mothers trade off their own somatic maintenance against investment in offspring. This trade-off affects the biological age of offspring at birth in terms of accumulated damage, as indicated by biomarkers such as oxidative stress or telomere length. We find that the optimal allocation between investment in maternal somatic investment and investment in offspring results in old mothers and mothers with low resource availability producing offspring with reduced life span. Furthermore, the effects are interactive, such that the strongest maternal age effects on offspring lifespan are found under low resource availability. These findings are broadly consistent with results from laboratory studies investigating the onset and rate of ageing and field studies examining maternal effects on ageing in the wild.

Keywords

  • Evolutionary Biology

Other

Published
  • ISSN: 1932-6203
Tobias Uller
E-mail: tobias.uller [at] biol.lu.se

Professor

Evolutionary ecology

+46 46 222 30 94

E-C256

Sölvegatan 37, Lund

50

Research group

Experimental Evolution, Ecology & Behaviour

Projects

Doctoral students and postdocs

I am currently about to move to Lund from University of Oxford. For details about DPhil students and postdocs in my previous research group based at the Edward Grey Institute, please click here

Downloads & links

CV (pdf; 241 kB)