Little is known about physiological mechanisms that underlie the cost of reproduction. We tested the hypothesis that stress susceptibility is a cost of reproduction. In one test of our hypothesis, Drosophila melanogaster females were exposed to a juvenile hormone analog (methoprene) to stimulate egg production followed by stress assays. A sterile stock of D. melanogaster was employed as a control for reproduction. Exposure of fertile females to methoprene resulted in an increase in female reproduction and increased susceptibility to oxidative stress and starvation (compared to solvent controls). Sterile females did not exhibit a decrease in stress resistance. Mating also stimulated egg production. As a second test of our hypothesis, mated females were compared to virgin females. Mated fertile females were relatively susceptible to oxidative stress, but this relationship was not evident when mated and virgin sterile females were compared. The results of the present study support the hypothesis that stress susceptibility is a cost of reproduction.
Corresponding Editor: T. Mousseau