Dietary restriction improves fitness of ageing parents but reduces fitness of their offspring in nematodes

Brian S Mautz, Martin I Lind, Alexei A Maklakov

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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Dietary restriction (DR) is a well-established intervention to extend lifespan across taxa. Recent studies suggest that DR-driven lifespan extension can be cost-free, calling into question a central tenant of the evolutionary theory of aging. Nevertheless, boosting parental longevity can reduce offspring fitness. Such intergenerational trade-offs are often ignored but can account for the "missing costs" of longevity. Here, we use the nematode Caenorhabditis remanei to test for effects of DR by fasting on fitness of females and their offspring. Females deprived of food for 6 days indeed had increased fecundity, survival, and stress resistance after re-exposure to food compared with their counterparts with constant food access. However, offspring of DR mothers had reduced early and lifetime fecundity, slower growth rate, and smaller body size at sexual maturity. These findings support the direct trade-off between investment in soma and gametes challenging the hypothesis that increased somatic maintenance and impaired reproduction can be decoupled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843–848
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology, Series A
Issue number5
Early online date25 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Dietary restriction
  • Lifespan extension
  • Reproduction
  • Temporary fasting
  • Trade-offs
  • Transgenerational effects

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