Study: The human lifespan is written into our DNA

phys.org | 7/3/2019 | Staff
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Humans have a "natural" lifespan of around 38 years, according to a new method we have developed for estimating the lifespans of different species by analyzing their DNA.

Extrapolating from genetic studies of species with known lifespans, we found that the extinct woolly mammoth probably lived around 60 years and bowhead whales can expect to enjoy more than two and a half centuries of life.

Research - Today - Scientific - Reports - Changes

Our research, published today in Scientific Reports, looked at how DNA changes as an animal ages—and found that it varies from species to species and is related to how long the animal is likely to live.

The aging process is very important in biomedical and ecological research. As animals grow older, they experience a decline of biological functions, which limits their lifespan. Until now it has been difficult to determine how many years an animal can live.

DNA - Blueprint - Living - Organisms - Place

DNA is the blueprint of living organisms and it is an obvious place to seek insights into ageing and lifespan. However, no-one has been able to find differences in DNA sequences that account for differences in lifespans.

Lifespans among vertebrates varies greatly. The pygmy goby (Eviota sigillata) is a small fish that lives only eight weeks, whereas individual Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) have been found that lived for more than 400 years.

Lifespan - Animals - Management - Conservation - Species

Knowing the lifespan of wild animals is fundamental for wildlife management and conservation. For endangered species, lifespan can be used to understand what populations are viable. In industries such as fisheries, lifespan is used in population models to determine catch limits.

However, the lifespan of most animals is unknown. Most estimates come from a small number of individuals living in captivity whose ages at death were known. For long-lived species it is difficult to obtain a lifespan as they may outlive a generation of researchers.

Years - Researchers - DNA

Over the past few years researchers have developed DNA...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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