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Classical theory maintains that ageing evolves via energy trade-offs between reproduction and survival leading to accumulation of unrepaired cellular damage with age. In contrast, the emerging new theory postulates that ageing evolves because of deleterious late-life hyper-function of reproduction-promoting genes leading to excessive biosynthesis in late-life. The hyper-function theory uniquely predicts that optimizing nutrient-sensing molecular signaling in adulthood can simultaneously postpone ageing and increase Darwinian fitness. Here, we show that reducing evolutionarily conserved insulin/IGF-1 nutrient-sensing signaling via daf-2 RNA interference (RNAi) fulfils this prediction in Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes. Long-lived daf-2 RNAi parents showed normal fecundity as self-fertilizing hermaphrodites and improved late-life reproduction when mated to males. Remarkably, the offspring of daf-2 RNAi parents had higher Darwinian fitness across three different genotypes. Thus, reduced nutrient-sensing signaling in adulthood improves both parental longevity and offspring fitness supporting the emerging view that suboptimal gene expression in late-life lies at the heart of ageing.
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