Many studies have found that older parents have shorter-lived offspring. However, the evolutionary significance of these findings is poorly understood. We carried out large-scale demographic experiments to examine the direct effect of maternal age and paternal age on offspring aging in inbred and outbred strains of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. We found that the age of mothers and, to a lesser extent, the age of fathers can have a large influence on both offspring longevity and the shape of the age-specific mortality trajectory. In two independent experiments we found that older mothers generally produced shorter-lived offspring, although the exact effect of maternal age on offspring longevity differed among strains. These results suggest that maternal age effects on progeny aging may influence the evolution of aging.
Corresponding Editor: M. Whitlock