Distinct genomic signals of lifespan and life history evolution in response to postponed reproduction and larval diet in Drosophila



Reproduction and diet are two major factors controlling the physiology of aging and life history, but how they interact to affect the evolution of longevity is unknown. Moreover, while studies of large-effect mutants suggest an important role of nutrient sensing pathways in regulating aging, the genetic basis of evolutionary changes in lifespan remains poorly understood. To address these questions, we analyzed the genomes of experimentally evolved Drosophila melanogaster populations subjected to a factorial combination of two selection regimes: reproductive age (early versus postponed), and diet during the larval stage (‘low’, ‘control’, ‘high’), resulting in six treatment combinations with four replicate populations each. Selection on reproductive age consistently affected lifespan, with flies from the postponed reproduction regime having evolved a longer lifespan. In contrast, larval diet affected lifespan only in early-reproducing populations: flies adapted to the ‘low’ diet lived longer than those adapted to control diet. Here we find genomic evidence for strong independent evolutionary responses to either selection regime, as well as loci that diverged in response to both regimes, thus representing genomic interactions between the two. Overall, we find that the genomic basis of longevity is largely independent of dietary adaptation. Differentiated loci were not enriched for ‘canonical’ longevity genes, suggesting that naturally occurring genic targets of selection for longevity differ qualitatively from variants found in mutant screens. Comparing our candidate loci to those from other ‘evolve-and-resequence’ studies of longevity demonstrated significant overlap among independent experiments. This suggests that the evolution of longevity, despite its presumed complex and polygenic nature, might be to some extent convergent and predictable.
Date made available28 Oct 2019


  • Evolution of ageing
  • Life History Evolution
  • genomics
  • Experimental evolution

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