Medindia

X

Ageing Process may be Better Understood by Studying Self-Cloning Marine Animals

by Kathy Jones on  April 24, 2011 at 7:31 PM Anti-Aging News   - G J E 4
The key to delaying ageing in humans is held in marine animals that reproduce asexually by cloning, scientists at the University of Gothenburg believe.
 Ageing Process may be Better Understood by Studying Self-Cloning Marine Animals
Ageing Process may be Better Understood by Studying Self-Cloning Marine Animals
Advertisement

They have shown how colony-forming ascidians (or sea squirts) can activate the enzyme telomerase, which protects DNA. This enzyme is more active also in humans who attain an advanced age.

Advertisement
"Animals that clone themselves, in which part of an individual's body is passes on to the next generations, have particularly interesting conditions related to remaining in good health to persist. This makes it useful to study these animals in order to understand mechanisms of ageing in humans," said Helen Nilsson Skold.

There are enormous differences in the lengths of life of the Earth's species. Some animals and plants that reproduce asexually can in principle achieve essentially eternal life; there are examples of deep-sea corals that are tens of thousands of years old.

Skold decided to study sea squirts and starfish, which are species whose genes resemble closely those of humans.

"My research has shown that sea squirts rejuvenate themselves by activating the enzyme telomerase, and in this way extending their chromosomes and protecting their DNA. They also have a special ability to discard 'junk' from their cells. Older parts of the animal are quite simply broken down, and are then partially recycled when new and healthy parts grow out from the adult bodies," she said.

Some species of starfish reproduce asexually by tearing apart their bodies, while others reproduce sexually only.

This makes them particularly interesting animals to study. Both types of starfish can reconstruct lost body parts, but the species that reproduce asexually have considerably better health.

However, one consequence of asexual reproduction is that the species as a whole will have a very low genetic variation.

This means that they will be particularly vulnerable to climate change, and the subsequent new types of changes in the environment. There is a high risk that these animals and plants will lose out - and then we will lose important knowledge about the riddle of ageing.

Source: ANI
Advertisement

Post your Comments

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
User Avatar
* Your comment can be maximum of 2500 characters
Notify me when reply is posted I agree to the terms and conditions

You May Also Like

Advertisement
View All