Life history trade-offs within the context of mitochondrial hormesis


Evolutionary biologists have been interested in the negative interactions among life history traits for nearly a century, but the mechanisms that would create this negative interaction remain poorly understood. One variable that has emerged as a likely link between reproductive effort and longevity is oxidative stress. Specifically, it has been proposed that reproduction generates free radicals that cause oxidative stress and, in turn, oxidative stress damages cellular components and accelerates senescence. We propose that there is limited support for the hypothesis because reactive oxygen species (ROS), the free radicals implicated in oxidative damage, are not consistently harmful. With this review, we define the hormetic response of mitochondria to ROS, termed mitochondrial hormesis, and describe how to test for a mitohormetic response. We interpret existing data using our model and propose that experimental manipulations will further improve our knowledge of this response. Finally, we postulate how the mitohormetic response curve applies to variation in animal performance and longevity.

Publication Title

Integrative and Comparative Biology