Navigation Links
Sex and lifespan linked in worms
Date:7/23/2008

A group of scientists who set out to study sex pheromones in a tiny worm found that the same family of pheromones also controls a stage in the worms' life cycle, the long-lived dauer larva.

The findings, published in Nature online on July 23, represent the first time that reproduction and lifespan have been linked through so-called small molecules.

Where scientists once focused on DNA and proteins as the major players in an organism's biology, they are now realizing that smaller, but more structurally diverse chemicals - simply called "small molecules" - are a significant part of a living thing's biology. "They're as important to biology as the genes are," says Frank Schroeder, last author of the paper and a scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute.

The researchers set out to identify the sex pheromone that attracts male C. elegans worms to the more common hermaphrodites (this worm species has no females). C. elegans, a tiny nematode, is a model organism often used to study development and reproduction.

To identify the sex pheromone, the researchers tested mixtures of chemicals produced by the worms, narrowing down the possibilities until only a few remained. They discovered that a handful of sugar-like chemicals called ascarosides worked together to attract males.

"One interesting aspect is that a whole family of compounds is necessary to elicit a biological response. One by itself doesn't do much, but two or three together give a strong response," says Schroeder.

Surprisingly, the same group of compounds can also trigger young worms to enter the long-lived dauer stage.

When food is scarce or colonies become crowded, young worms stop developing normally and enter the dauer stage. In this form they can live, without eating or reproducing, for months - about ten times longer than the worm's normal lifespan. When the dauer finds greener pastures, it finally develops into an adult and resumes its normal aging process.

"We usually think of aging as a process of decay," says Schroeder, "but evidence is accumulating that aging is a stage of development like anything else." The researchers speculate that the dauer pheromone may also increase the lifespan of adult worms.

"The next question is how these compounds influence mating behavior and developmental timing on the molecular level," says Schroeder, and whether a similar effect is possible in other animals. "We're looking at genetic pathways that could potentially play a role in delayed aging."

Why would the same chemicals control both sexual attraction and lifespan? The way these chemicals work isn't fully understood yet, but scientists have long known that reproduction and lifespan are related - if an organism can be made to live longer, it usually reproduces less. "How these compounds fit into this picture remains to be clarified, but they provide one of the first direct links between these two life functions," says Schroeder.


'/>"/>

Contact: Frank Schroeder
fs31@cornell.edu
607-254-4391
Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Drug commonly used to treat bipolar disorder dramatically increases lifespan in worms
2. Honeybee researcher to unravel properties governing lifespan with support from Norway
3. Eliminating germline lengthens fly lifespan, Brown study shows
4. Risk of common vaginal infection linked to preterm birth appears higher for blacks
5. Scientists show that mitochondrial DNA variants are linked to risk factors for type 2 diabetes
6. Protein chatter linked to cancer activation
7. Western diet linked to increased risk of colon cancer recurrence
8. Sugary drinks, not fruit juice, may be linked to insulin
9. Brains timing linked with timescales of the natural visual world
10. Low vitamin D during pregnancy linked to pre-eclampsia
11. Genetic variant linked to odor perception
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... No two people are believed to ... York University Tandon School of Engineering and Michigan ... partial similarities between prints are common enough that ... and other electronic devices can be more vulnerable ... in the fact that fingerprint-based authentication systems feature ...
(Date:4/5/2017)...  The Allen Institute for Cell Science today announces ... portal and dynamic digital window into the human cell. ... application of deep learning to create predictive models of ... a growing suite of powerful tools. The Allen Cell ... publicly available resources created and shared by the Allen ...
(Date:4/4/2017)... , April 4, 2017   EyeLock LLC ... announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office ... broadly covers the linking of an iris image with ... transaction) and represents the company,s 45 th issued ... patent is very timely given the multi-modal biometric capabilities ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Proscia ... be hosting a Webinar titled, “Pathology is going digital. Is your lab ready?” ... pathology adoption best practices and how Proscia improves lab economics and realizes an ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are ... 5.5 million people each year. Especially those living in larger cities are affected by ... in one of the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided to take action. , ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 2017 , ... San Diego-based team building and cooking events company, Lajollacooks4u, has ... The bold new look is part of a transformation to increase awareness, appeal to ... period. , It will also expand its service offering from its signature gourmet cooking ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... Dr. Bob Harman, founder and CEO of ... Rotary Club. The event entitled “Stem Cells and Their Regenerative Powers,” ... Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined by two human doctors: Peter B. Hanson, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: