When can a clonal organism escape senescence?


Some clonal organisms may live for thousands of years and show no signs of senescence, while others consistently die after finite life spans. Using two models, we examined how stage-specific life-history rates of a clone's modules determine whether a genetic individual escapes senescence by replacing old modules with new ones. When the rates of clonal or sexual reproduction and survival of individual modules decline with age, clones are more likely to experience senescence. In addition, the models predict that there is a greater tendency to find senescence in terms of a decline in the rate of sexual reproduction with clone age than in terms of an increase in the probability of clone mortality, unless rates of sexual reproduction increase dramatically with module stage. Using a matrix model modified to represent the clonal lifestyle, we show how a trade-off between sexual and clonal reproduction could result in selection for or against clonal senescence. We also show that, in contrast to unitary organisms, the strength of selection on life-history traits can increase with the age of a clone even in a growing population, countering the evolution of senescence.

DOI: 10.1086/286076

Cite this paper

@article{Gardner1997WhenCA, title={When can a clonal organism escape senescence?}, author={Susan N Gardner and Marc Mangel}, journal={The American naturalist}, year={1997}, volume={150 4}, pages={462-90} }