Month of Birth Influences Life Span of Mediterranean Fruit Flies, Rats and Mice

Gabriele Doblhammer, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Vladimir N. Anisimov, N.N. Petrov Research Institute of Oncology
Anna V. Semenchenko, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Month of birth influences life span and disease in humans. Nutrition of the mother during pregnancy and/or virus infections in-utero early in life have been proposed as underlying causal mechanisms. In this study we ask the question whether the month-of-birth effect in life span also exists in other species than humans and in particular, whether it exists in laboratory animals that are used as control groups in experiments. These animals live under strictly controlled environmental conditions and should not be subject to seasonal changing dietary conditions and exposure to virus infections. We use data from large experiments on Mediterranean fruit flies with thousands of animals, as well as smaller experiments on rats and mice. In all three species we find a significant month-of-birth pattern in life span that is not only consistent among the species but also shares similar characteristics with the pattern observed among humans.

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Presented in Session 174: Population Genetics and Population Development