"The purpose of this article is to provide a balanced scientific discussion of the evolutionary theories of aging, which evolutionary biologists suggest as “the intellectual core of gerontology”. Such a discussion of the evolutionary theories of aging is needed, and it may be particularly useful for students and researchers entering the field of aging studies. This article will also provide them with an orientation to the abundant scientific literature on the evolution of aging, which requires knowledge of the historical background, i.e., how these evolutionary ideas evolved themselves over time. While working on this article, we found that the scientific literature on evolutionary gerontology should be handled with great care because the significance of some publications could only be understood in the context of related studies made by other researchers.
Evolutionary theories of aging and longevity are those theories that try to explain the remarkable differences in observed aging rates and longevity records across different biological species (compare, for example, mice and humans) through interplay between the processes of mutation and selection. The appeal for understanding the biological evolution of aging and lifespan comes also from puzzling observations of the life cycles of some biological species. For example, a bamboo plant reproduces vegetatively (asexually) for about 100 years, forming a dense stand of plants. Then in one season all of the plants flower simultaneously, reproduce sexually, and die. About 100 years later (depending on the exact bamboo species) the process is repeated. This intriguing observation, as well as other similar observations of “suicidal” life cycles of species like pacific salmon, has promoted the idea that sexual reproduction may come with a cost for species longevity. Thus, in addition to mutation and selection, the reproductive cost, or, more generally, the trade-offs between different traits of organisms may also contribute to the evolution of species aging and longevity. The evolutionary theories of aging are closely related to the genetics of aging because biological evolution is possible only for heritable manifestations of aging."
Gavrilov LA, Gavrilova NS. Evolutionary theories of aging and longevity.ScientificWorldJournal. 2002 Feb 7;2:339-56. Disponible en: http://www.tswj.com/2002/704240/abs/
Kunlin J. Modern Biological Theories Aging. Aging Dis. 2010 October; 1(2): 72–74. Disponible en: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995895/?tool=pubmed