Why Do Males Age Their Mates?

Male nematodes secrete pheromones that accelerate the somatic senescence of potential mates. A very nice new study by Aprison and Ruvinsky shows that this harm most likely is an unintended by-product of the males’ aim to speed up sexual maturation and delay reproductive senescence of future partners.

Urban Friberg and I wrote a commentary on this paper. We also used this opportunity to highlight an important point that it may be not so easy to study the trade-off between lifespan and reproduction using the removal of reproductive system approach, because resources allocated to reproduction may be simply wasted rather than reallocated back to somatic maintenance (see the commentary for the full version of this argument). We used the bucket analogy to illustrate this using a cartoon (see below).

 

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