Project 7: Sex Differences in Fruit Fly Health and Survival This Project has three components, each of which corresponds to a specific Aim. The first component will involve the use of advanced statistical techniques and methods of meta-analysis to analyze and model demographic data on over 5 million deaths collated from 18 years of studies on the Mediterranean fruit fly and the Mexican fruit fly. This database is one of the largest, cleanest, and richest sources of demographic data available for any non-human model species. Although virtually all of the published research papers based on information contained in the database include analyses of male and female differences, the data have never before been analyzed as a meta-dataset or with the express purpose of identifying the principles for sex-mortality differentials. Development of new statistical techniques for analyzing age- and sex-specific mortality data will also be part of this database research component. The second component involves the use of a newly-developed high resolution (fine-grained time scale) electronic monitoring system to record the daily and lifetime behavior and movement of male and female Mexican fruit flies. The raw data that is generated from this system on individual flies will be analyzed in a range of behavioral and "locomotor" contexts such as lifetime patterns, behavioral differences between young and old flies as well as male and female flies, circadian rhythm-based behaviors (including sleep), and changes in age-specific locomotor characteristics such as velocity, meandering indices, and zonal preferences. One of the goals of this component is to record apparent changes in fly health (as interpreted via behavioral changes) throughout their lives including the acquisition of naturally-occurring impairments and disabilities. The third component involves in-depth studies concerned with sex-specific costs of reproduction using mating as the source of the male costs and both mating and egg production as the sources of female costs. This component will also involve experiments designed to disaggregate the costs of the reproduction constituents including courtship in males and copulation and insemination in both sexes, as well as experiments to elucidate the costs of reproduction in both sexes with access to multiple mates at different exposure intervals.

Public Health Relevance

(Seeinstructions): The operational concept of the proposed research is that a set of principles can serve as a basic foundation for advancing research and developing policy concerned with human aging. We will integrate concepts and empirical approaches derived from survival research on humans into survival research on insects to inform research on humans as well as shed important light on sex differences in mortality and morbidity.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Program Projects (P01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAG1-ZIJ-7)
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Duke University
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