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Aging Cell. 2017 Jun;16(3):602-604. doi: 10.1111/acel.12582. Epub 2017 Mar 1.

Aging yeast gain a competitive advantage on non-optimal carbon sources.

Author information

1
Epigenetics Programme, Babraham Institute, Cambridge, CB22 3AT, UK.
2
Flow Cytometry Core Facility, Babraham Institute, Cambridge, CB22 3AT, UK.

Abstract

Animals, plants and fungi undergo an aging process with remarkable physiological and molecular similarities, suggesting that aging has long been a fact of life for eukaryotes and one to which our unicellular ancestors were subject. Key biochemical pathways that impact longevity evolved prior to multicellularity, and the interactions between these pathways and the aging process therefore emerged in ancient single-celled eukaryotes. Nevertheless, we do not fully understand how aging impacts the fitness of unicellular organisms, and whether such cells gain a benefit from modulating rather than simply suppressing the aging process. We hypothesized that age-related loss of fitness in single-celled eukaryotes may be counterbalanced, partly or wholly, by a transition from a specialist to a generalist life-history strategy that enhances adaptability to other environments. We tested this hypothesis in budding yeast using competition assays and found that while young cells are more successful in glucose, highly aged cells outcompete young cells on other carbon sources such as galactose. This occurs because aged yeast divide faster than young cells in galactose, reversing the normal association between age and fitness. The impact of aging on single-celled organisms is therefore complex and may be regulated in ways that anticipate changing nutrient availability. We propose that pathways connecting nutrient availability with aging arose in unicellular eukaryotes to capitalize on age-linked diversity in growth strategy and that individual cells in higher eukaryotes may similarly diversify during aging to the detriment of the organism as a whole.

KEYWORDS:

aging; evolution of aging; generalist; specialist; yeast

PMID:
28247585
PMCID:
PMC5418195
DOI:
10.1111/acel.12582
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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