• Aging;
  • antagonistic pleiotropy;
  • cost of reproduction;
  • Drosophila;
  • experimental evolution;
  • juvenile hormone;
  • life span;
  • reproduction;
  • trade-off

Trade-offs between reproduction and life span are ubiquitous, but little is known about their underlying mechanisms. Here we combine treatment with the juvenile hormone analog (JHa) methoprene and experimental evolution in Drosophila melanogaster to study the potential role of juvenile hormone (JH) in mediating such trade-offs at both the physiological and evolutionary level. Exposure to JHa in the larval medium (and up to 24 h posteclosion) increased early life fecundity but reduced life span of normal (unselected) flies, supporting the physiological role of JH in mediating the trade-off. This effect was much smaller for life span, and not detectable for fecundity, in fly lines previously bred for 19 generations on a medium containing JHa. Furthermore, these selection lines lived longer than unselected controls even in the absence of JHa treatment, without a detectable reduction in early life fecundity. Thus, selection for resistance to JHa apparently induced some evolutionary changes in JH metabolism or signaling, which led to longer life span as a correlated response. This supports the hypothesis that JH may mediate evolution of longer life span, but—contrary to our expectation—this apparently does not need to trade-off with fecundity.