Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Some Plants And Animals Appear To Defy The Aging Process

Date:
January 17, 2008
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
The inevitability of the aging process and the onset of senescence - the process of deterioration with age - is a fact of life for most plant and animal species. Some, however, live to extreme ages, such as the English yew, of which at least one alive today is recorded in the Domesday Book; while a few organisms seem to defy current evolutionary understanding altogether, by appearing to have indefinite generation lengths with negligible senescence. For example, the Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine is known to produce viable cones at over 4000 years of age.

A mature bristlecone pine tree. The Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine is known to produce viable cones at over 4000 years of age.
Credit: iStockphoto/Harry Thomas

The inevitability of the aging process and the onset of senescence - the process of deterioration with age - is a fact of life for most plant and animal species.

Related Articles


Some, however, live to extreme ages, such as the English yew, of which at least one alive today is recorded in the Domesday Book; while a few organisms seem to defy current evolutionary understanding altogether, by appearing to have indefinite generation lengths with negligible senescence. For example, the Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine is known to produce viable cones at over 4000 years of age.

New research by ecologist Dr Patrick Doncaster from the University of Southampton, and mathematician Professor Robert Seymour from University College London demonstrates the principle by which some organisms can indefinitely postpone the onset of senescent aging.

'Our analysis indicates that sedentary organisms, including some types of tree, are particularly likely to achieve this postponement of the onset of senescent aging,' comments Dr Doncaster. 'It evolves through many generations of ancestors "crowding out" young individuals of the same species that attempt to grow to adulthood alongside them.'

He continues: 'The inevitability of senescence amongst organisms with repeated reproduction has well-developed theoretical foundations. In essence, since reproduction carries physiological costs, natural selection favors reaping early benefits, and delaying the cost in physiological decline until later in life when there is a greater chance of being dead anyway from environmental hazards.

'But some organisms show negligible senescence and a few, such as Hydra, which is a very simple freshwater animal, and the Bristlecone Pine, appear to have indefinite generation lengths. We have now answered the question of how they could have evolved from ancestors with senescent life histories. Mathematical analysis shows that the crowding out of young individuals favors selection on ever-reducing senescence. Our computer simulations indicate that this runaway process could even lead to immortality.'

The research paper 'Density Dependence Triggers Runaway Selection of Reduced Senescence' is published in PLoS Computational Biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "How Some Plants And Animals Appear To Defy The Aging Process." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080116164713.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2008, January 17). How Some Plants And Animals Appear To Defy The Aging Process. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080116164713.htm
University of Southampton. "How Some Plants And Animals Appear To Defy The Aging Process." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080116164713.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gorilla Falls Into Zoo Moat

Gorilla Falls Into Zoo Moat

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) A gorilla comes to the rescue of her sister who fell into a moat in Israel&apos;s Safari zoo. Rough cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bionic Ants Could Be Tomorrow's Factory Workers

Bionic Ants Could Be Tomorrow's Factory Workers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) Industrious 3D printed bionic ants working together could toil in the factories of the future, says German technology company Festo. The robotic insects cooperate and coordinate their actions and movements to achieve a common aim. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Captive-Born Panda Triplets Are Eight Months Old

Captive-Born Panda Triplets Are Eight Months Old

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) The world&apos;s only surviving captivity-born panda triplets turn eight months old, according to China’s state media. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lions Make Surprise Comeback in Gabon

Lions Make Surprise Comeback in Gabon

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) Lions have made a comeback in southeast Gabon, after disappearing for years, according to live footage from US wildlife organisation Panthera. Duration: 00:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins