Thursday, 15 February 2018

Scientists unlock the molecular secret behind long-lived bat species


February 7, 2018, University College Dublin

The longest-lived species of bats (Myotis) in which telomeres don't shorten with age Credit: UCD

Scientists have identified part of the molecular mechanism that gives long-lived bat species their extraordinary lifespans compared to other animals. The findings published in the journal Science Advances point to the protective structures at the end of chromosomes, called telomeres.

According to the international team of scientists, in the longest-lived species of bats (Myotis) telomeres don't shorten with age. Whereas in other bats species, humans and other animals they do, causing the age-related breakdown of cells that over the course of a lifetime can drive tissue deterioration and ultimately death.

To conduct the study, researchers took 3-mm wing biopsies from some 500 wild bats from across four species that they captured, marked and released. The samples were flash frozen in liquid nitrogen or desiccated using silica beads, high-molecular DNA was extracted, and change in telomere length was assessed.

"Our results show that telomeres shorten with age in two of the bat species (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum and Miniopterus schreibersii), typical of most mammals," says Dr. Nicole Foley of University College Dublin, Ireland, the lead author of the study.

"But in the longest-lived species of bats (Myotis), we did not detect any evidence that their telomeres shorten with age, contrary to all expectations."

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