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Sex differences in cognitive ageing: Testing predictions derived from life-history theory in a dioecious nematode
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Animal ecology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Animal ecology.
2013 (English)In: Experimental Gerontology, ISSN 0531-5565, E-ISSN 1873-6815, Vol. 48, no 12, 1469-1472 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Life-history theory maintains that organisms allocate limited resources to different traits to maximize fitness. Learning ability and memory are costly and known to trade-off with longevity in invertebrates. However, since the relationship between longevity and fitness often differs between the sexes, it is likely that sexes will differentially resolve the trade-off between learning and longevity. We used an established associative learning paradigm in the dioecious nematode Caenorhabditis remanei, which is sexually dimorphic for lifespan, to study age-related learning ability in males and females. In particular, we tested the hypothesis that females (the shorter-lived sex) show higher learning ability than males early in life but senesce faster. Indeed, young females outperformed young males in learning a novel association between an odour (butanone) and food (bacteria). However, while learning ability and offspring production declined rapidly with age in females, males maintained high levels of these traits until mid-age. These results not only demonstrate sexual dimorphismin age-related learning ability but also suggest that it conforms to predictions derived from the life-history theory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 48, no 12, 1469-1472 p.
Keyword [en]
Ageing, Caenorhabditis, Learning, Life-history, Sex differences, Trade-off
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-213468DOI: 10.1016/j.exger.2013.09.008ISI: 000327489800012OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-213468DiVA: diva2:682905
Available from: 2013-12-30 Created: 2013-12-23 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Age-specific trade-offs in life-history evolution
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Age-specific trade-offs in life-history evolution
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Trade-offs prevent selection from driving all fitness-enhancing traits towards values that would maximize fitness. Life-history trade-offs, such as the one between survival and reproduction are well-studied, yet trade-offs can also involve behavioural or cognitive traits. Because males and females have different routes to successful reproduction, the optimal resolution of life-history trade-offs can differ between the sexes. However, shared genome can constrain the evolution of sex-specific adaptations. In this thesis, I explore the links between sex-specific life histories, cognition and behaviour. I start by linking sex differences in life histories to sex differences in learning performance in the outcrossing nematode Caenorhabditis remanei (Paper I). I report that age-related learning differs between the sexes and that it corresponds to sexual dimorphism in life history. Then, I use experimental evolution to select for learning performance to study the patterns of genetic correlations between learning and life-history traits in both sexes (Paper II). The results demonstrate the correlated evolution of sexual dimorphism in life history indicating sex-specific fitness costs and benefits of learning. In Paper III I use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to ask about the extent to which cognitive and demographic aging are independent. The results reveal that selection for late-life reproduction alone bears no effect on late-life learning and that joint selection on late-life learning and reproduction does not yield lifespan benefits. The selection might have affected, however, female age-specific reproductive effort. Motivated by the questions on aging I proceed to ask why a potent lifespan extending drug – rapamycin affects sexes differently (Paper IV). I take a closer look at the trade-off between growth, lifespan and reproduction and propose that the sex experiencing a stronger relationship between size and fitness pays a higher cost of lifespan extension. Finally, I focus on another sex-specific trait – dispersal (Paper V). I conduct experimental evolution to uncover a negative genetic correlation between dispersal and reproduction and show sex-specific genetic variation for dispersal. In summary, my thesis unravels the complex pattern of interdependence between life-history, behavioural and cognitive traits, where sex emerges as an important factor that can maintain genetic variation for trade-offs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2017. 48 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1555
Keyword
life history, trade-off, learning, aging, sex differences, dispersal, Caenorhabditis, Drosophila
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Animal Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-329035 (URN)978-91-513-0067-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-10-27, Zootissalen, Villavägen 9, Uppsala, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-10-04 Created: 2017-09-07 Last updated: 2017-10-18

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Zwoinska, Martyna K.Kolm, NiclasMaklakov, Alexei A.

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