University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series > Growing old yet staying young: do bats hold the secret of extended longevity?

Growing old yet staying young: do bats hold the secret of extended longevity?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Professor Chris Jiggins.

Of all mammals, bat possess the most unique and peculiar adaptations that render them as excellent models to investigate the mechanisms of extended longevity and potentially halted senescence. Indeed, they are the longest-lived mammals relative to their body size, with the oldest bat caught being 41 years old, living approx. 9.8 times longer than expected. Bats defy the ‘rate-of-living’ theories that propose a positive correlation between body size and longevity as they use twice the energy as other species of considerable size, but live far longer. The mechanisms that bats use to avoid the negative physiological effects of their heightened metabolism and deal with an increased production of deleterious Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) is not known, however it is suggested that they either prevent or repair ROS damage. Bats also appear to have resistance to many viral diseases such as rabies, SARS and Ebola and have been shown to be reservoir species for a huge diversity of newly discovered viruses. This suggests that their innate immunity is different to other mammals, perhaps playing a role in their unexpected longevity. Here the potential genomic basis for their rare immunity and exceptional longevity is explored across multiple bat genomes and divergent ‘ageing’ related markers. A novel blood based population-level transcriptomics approach is developed to explore the molecular changes that occur in an ageing wild population of bats to uncover how bats ‘age’ so slowly compared with other mammals. This can provide a deeper understanding of the causal mechanisms of ageing, potentially uncovering the key molecular pathways that can be eventually modified to halt, alleviate and perhaps even reverse this process in man.

This talk is part of the Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series series.

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