In many species, females exposed to increased sexual activity experience reductions in longevity. Here, in Drosophila melanogaster, we report an additional effect on females brought about by sexual interactions, an effect that spans generations. We subjected females to a sexual treatment consisting of different levels of sexual activity and then investigated patterns of mortality in their offspring. We found reduced probabilities of survival, increases in the rate of senescence and a pattern of reduced mean longevities, for offspring produced by mothers that experienced higher levels of sexual interaction. We contend that these effects constitute trans-generational costs of sexual conflict - the existence or implications of which have rarely been considered previously. Our results indicate that ongoing exposure by mothers to male precopulatory interactions is itself sufficient to drive trans-generational effects on offspring mortality. Thus, we show that increases in maternal sexual activity can produce trans-generational effects that permeate through to latter life stages in the offspring. This helps to elucidate the complex interplay between sex and ageing and provides new insights into the dynamics of adaptation under sexual selection. © 2013 European Society For Evolutionary Biology.
Dowling, D. K., Williams, B. R. G., & Garcia - Gonzalez, P. (2014). Maternal sexual interactions affect offspring survival and ageing. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 27(1), 88-97. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.12276