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Exp Gerontol. 2004 Sep;39(9):1267-76.

Aging in a very short-lived nematode.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1UG, UK.


Aging has been characterised in detail in relatively few animal species. Here we describe the aging process in free-living adults of the parasitic nematode Strongyloides ratti. We find that the phenomenology of aging in S. ratti free-living females, resembles that of the short-lived free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, except that it unfolds far more rapidly. The mean (3.0 +/- 0.1 days) and maximum (4.5 +/- 0.8 days) lifespans of free-living S. ratti females are approximately one quarter of equivalent values for C. elegans. Demographic senescence (a hallmark of aging) was observed in free-living S. ratti, with a mortality rate doubling time of 0.8 +/- 0.1 days (females), compared with 2.0 +/- 0.3 in C. elegans. S. ratti lifetime fertility and lifespan were affected by temperature, and there is an age-related decline in feeding rate and movement, similar to C. elegans, but occurring more quickly. Gut autofluorescence (lipofuscin) also increased with age in S. ratti free-living females, as in aging C. elegans. These findings show that the extreme brevity of life in free-living S. ratti adults, the shortest-lived nematode described to date, is the consequence of rapid aging, rather than some other, more rapid and catastrophic life-shortening pathology.

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