Abstracts (first author)
The reproduction-survival trade-off at the transcriptional level
Author(s): Zwaan B, Doroszuk A, Jonker M, Breit T
To reproduce, organisms typically compromise their own immediate and future survival. Trade-offs are pervasive and form an important component of many biological theories. Despite the considerable attention dedicated to trade-offs over last years and sufficient genomic tools, it remains unclear how the patterns in gene expression translate to life-history trade-offs observed at the phenotypic level, and to what extent the knowledge at the molecular and theoretical levels can be integrated. Here, we report that the genes functionally linked to reproduction and survival in Drosophila melanogaster show negatively correlated expression patterns, mirroring the reproduction-survival trade-offs observed at the phenotypic level. We further show that the expression trade-off mediates responses to food and age in accordance with life history theory. This includes a parallel shift of the trade-off in females on different diets complying with the acquisition-allocation theory, and a trade-off release in males on high food levels following the notion of lower reproductive investments in males. Taken together, our findings (i) indicate that life history trade-offs can be interpreted as conflicts over gene expression, (ii) extend the interpretations of basic concepts in biology to the transcriptional level, and, (iii), suggest mechanisms of how these trade-offs are regulated. Up to date, trade-offs have either mostly been approached from a purely phenotypic perspective without much attention to the underlying mechanisms, or conclusions have been drawn about trade-offs from molecular studies without considering the functional phenotype. Our study clearly bridges these views and provides a novel molecular perspective for interpretation and testing of classical biological theories.