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Keywords:

  • Age-dependent reproductive effort;
  • ageing;
  • life span;
  • oxidative damage;
  • protein oxidation;
  • reactive oxygen species;
  • sexual selection;
  • total antioxidant capacity

The Free Radical Theory of Ageing (FRTA) predicts that oxidative stress, induced when levels of reactive oxygen species exceed the capacity of antioxidant defenses, causes ageing. Recently, it has also been argued that oxidative damage may mediate important life-history trade-offs. Here, we use inbred lines of the decorated cricket, Gryllodes sigillatus, to estimate the genetic (co)variance between age-dependent reproductive effort, life span, ageing, oxidative damage, and total antioxidant capacity within and between the sexes. The FRTA predicts that oxidative damage should accumulate with age and negatively correlate with life span. We find that protein oxidation is greater in the shorter lived sex (females) and negatively genetically correlated with life span in both sexes. However, oxidative damage did not accumulate with age in either sex. Previously we have shown antagonistic pleiotropy between the genes for early-life reproductive effort and ageing rate in both sexes, although this was stronger in females. In females, we find that elevated fecundity early in life is associated with greater protein oxidation later in life, which is in turn positively correlated with the rate of ageing. Our results provide mixed support for the FRTA but suggest that oxidative stress may mediate sex-specific life-history strategies in G. sigillatus.