Evolution under dietary restriction increases male reproductive performance without survival cost

Felix Zajitschek, Susanne R. K. Zajitschek, Cindy Canton, Grigorios Georgolopoulos, Urban Friberg, Alexei A. Maklakov

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Dietary restriction (DR), a reduction in nutrient intake without malnutrition, is the most reproducible way to extend lifespan in a wide range of organisms across the tree of life, yet the evolutionary underpinnings of the DR effect on lifespan are still widely debated. The leading theory suggests that this effect is adaptive and results from reallocation of resources from reproduction to somatic maintenance, in order to survive periods of famine in nature. However, such response would cease to be adaptive when DR is chronic and animals are selected to allocate more resources to reproduction. Nevertheless, chronic DR can also increase the strength of selection resulting in the evolution of more robust genotypes. We evolved Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies on ‘DR’, ‘standard’ and ‘high’ adult diets in replicate populations with overlapping generations. After approximately 25 generations of experimental evolution, male ‘DR’ flies had higher fitness than males from ‘standard’ and ‘high’ populations. Strikingly, this increase in reproductive success did not come at a cost to survival. Our results suggest that sustained DR selects for more robust male genotypes that are overall better in converting resources into energy, which they allocate mostly to reproduction.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20152726
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1825
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

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