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Temperature and Lifespan in Drosophila


HOLLINGSWORTH1 has reported the results of an experiment with Drosophila melanogaster which he claims are not consistent with either of the two theories which have been suggested to explain the fact that poikilothermous animals have a shorter lifespan at high temperatures than at low temperatures. These two theories are the rate of living theory first put forward by Pearl2 and later reformulated by Shaw and Bercaw3, and the threshold theory of Clarke and Maynard Smith4. In this communication I describe experiments which support Hollingsworth's conclusion that neither theory is an adequate explanation of the observed effects of temperature on the lifespan of Drosophila, but I would first like to point out that Hollingsworth's conclusion seems to be based on misinterpretations of both the threshold theory and the rate of living theory.

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  1. Hollingsworth, M. J., Nature, 218, 869 (1968).

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  2. Pearl, R., The Rate of Living (London, 1928).

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  3. Shaw, R. F., and Bercaw, B. L., Nature, 196, 454 (1962).

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  4. Clarke, J. M., and Maynard Smith, J., J. Exp. Biol., 38, 679 (1961).

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  5. Maynard Smith, J., Nature, 199, 400 (1963).

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LAMB, M. Temperature and Lifespan in Drosophila. Nature 220, 808–809 (1968).

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