The deteriorating soma and the indispensable germline: gamete senescence and offspring fitness

Monaghan, P. and Metcalfe, N. B. (2019) The deteriorating soma and the indispensable germline: gamete senescence and offspring fitness. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 286, 20192187. (doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2187) (PMID:31847776) (PMCID:PMC6939927)

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Abstract

The idea that there is an impenetrable barrier that separates the germline and soma has shaped much thinking in evolutionary biology and in many other disciplines. However, recent research has revealed that the so-called ‘Weismann Barrier’ is leaky, and that information is transferred from soma to germline. Moreover, the germline itself is now known to age, and to be influenced by an age-related deterioration of the soma that houses and protects it. This could reduce the likelihood of successful reproduction by old individuals, but also lead to long-term deleterious consequences for any offspring that they do produce (including a shortened lifespan). Here, we review the evidence from a diverse and multidisciplinary literature for senescence in the germline and its consequences; we also examine the underlying mechanisms responsible, emphasizing changes in mutation rate, telomere loss, and impaired mitochondrial function in gametes. We consider the effect on life-history evolution, particularly reproductive scheduling and mate choice. Throughout, we draw attention to unresolved issues, new questions to consider, and areas where more research is needed. We also highlight the need for a more comparative approach that would reveal the diversity of processes that organisms have evolved to slow or halt age-related germline deterioration.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Metcalfe, Professor Neil and Monaghan, Professor Pat
Authors: Monaghan, P., and Metcalfe, N. B.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:0962-8452
ISSN (Online):1471-2954
Published Online:18 December 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 286:20192187
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
301347Why do fish fail at high temperatures?Neil MetcalfeNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/R001510/1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
173866Effect of circadian disruption on telomere dynamicsPatricia MonaghanBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/P009174/1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
305090MITOWILDNeil MetcalfeEuropean Commission (EC)834653Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine