Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version


Document Type



Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences 56A:2 (2001), pp. B89–B93.


Copyright © 2001 The Gerontological Society of America. Used by permission.


Large-scale experiments on medflies that were subjected to sterilizing doses of ionizing radiation (plus intact controls) and maintained on either sugar-only or full, protein-enriched diets revealed that, whereas the mortality trajectories of both intact and irradiated male cohorts maintained on both diets are similar, the mortality patterns of females are highly variable. Mean mortality rates at 35 days in male cohorts ranged from 0.2 to 0.3 but in female cohorts ranged from 0.09 to 0.35, depending on treatment. The study reports three main influences: (a) qualitative differences exist in the sex–mortality response of medflies subjected to dietary manipulations and irradiation, (b) the female mortality response is linked to increased vulnerability due to the nutritional demands of reproduction, and (c) female sensitivity to environmental changes underlies the dynamics of the sex-mortality differential.