There were two ‘ageing’ symposia + a life-history symposium + a non-genetic effects symposium at ESEB 2019 – a lot of interesting and relevant talks.
Laura Travers presented a poster on the effect of autophagy on survival and fitness under dietary restriction, testing recent evolutionary theory of DR.
Here is the link to a session at Life-History symposium where I gave an invited talk on the role of non-energy-based trade-offs in ageing, highlighting the possibility that age-specificity of gene expression is not sufficiently optimised in adulthood and contributes to ageing. This presentation was followed by Irja Ratikainen’s invited talk who used C. remanei nematodes to test some of her models of the evolution of lifespan in variable environments in collaboration with Martin Lind’s lab in Uppsala and our lab. Finally, Ed Ivimey-Cook talked about our dietary restriction experiment in C. elegans that spans several generations later in the same session:
Next day, Liz Duxbury talked about the preliminary results of her mutation accumulation experiment testing how down-regulation of daf-2 expression in adulthood affects mutation rates:
Reduced expression of the insulin/insulin-like nutrient-sensing signalling (IIS) pathway gene daf-2 in adult Caenorhabditis elegans nematode worms increases longevity without affecting fecundity, but the effect of parental lifespan extension on adult offspring is largely unknown. We found that reduced IIS signalling in parental generation increases offspring fitness. We used RNA interference (RNAi) to silence daf-2 expression in sexually mature C. elegans hermaphrodites from three different genotypes: N2 wildtype, as well as ppw-1 and rrf-1 mutants that are deficient for RNAi in germline and soma, respectively. Long-lived daf-2 RNAi parents showed normal fecundity as self-fertilizing hermaphrodites and improved late-life reproduction when mated to males. Remarkably, the offspring of daf-2 RNAi parents produced more progeny and had higher Darwinian fitness across all three genotypes. Thus, reduced IIS signalling in adulthood improves offspring quality supporting the emerging view that suboptimally high levels of nutrient-sensing signalling in late-life lie at the heart of ageing.
Ed joins our lab from October 1st as BBSRC-funded postdoc on the project that deals with transgenerational effects of dietary restriction on ageing and Darwinian fitness.
Ed has a general interest in ageing, maternal effects, and quantitative genetics. In particular, he is interested in understanding how biological processes and life-history trade-offs contribute to the vast observed diversity in trait ageing trajectories. For his PhD, he used experimental and widescale comparative analyses to investigate the detrimental effects of increasing maternal age manifested on offspring traits.
David Murray joins our lab as ERC-funded Research Technician on a collaborative project with Simone Immler’s group to work on ageing and reproduction in zebrafish.
David has a long-standing interest in aquatic ecosystems and, after finishing his PhD in Glasgow, worked in Vienna and Berlin, and, most recently, at UEA in Matt Gage’s lab. He has broad interests in sustainable aquaculture, conservation biology and phenotypic plasticity.
Elizabeth joined our lab in July 2018 as ERC-funded postdoc. She is working on the relationship between ageing and germline mutation rate.
Previously, Elizabeth worked on sex-specific life history effects of dietary manipulation, and the evolution and genetics of virus resistance in natural populations of fruit fly species.
Laura Travers joined our lab as 3-year ERC-funded senior postdoctoral research associate to work on transgenerational effects of parental lifespan extension.
Laura has a broad interest in ageing, sexual selection, and evolutionary genetics. In particular, she is interested in understanding how trade-offs between life history traits such as reproduction and lifespan drive evolutionary change.
Happy to announce that our BBSRC proposal with Co-Is Tracey Chapman (UEA BIO), Simone Immler (UEA BIO) and David Thybert (EI and UEA BIO) was approved and this means more research on the trans-generational consequences of parental lifespan extension!
We will be advertising positions for a postdoc and a research assistant (technician) soon!
Martyna became a true expert in life-history trade-offs – both professionally and personally:
Photo: R. Bonduriansky. Two neriid males in a fight.
Foteini Spagopoulou has traveled to Sydney, Australia to study how differences in early-life resource acquisition affect age-specific life-histories in male neriid flies in Bonduriansky lab at UNSW. Together with Amy Hooper and Zachariah Wylde, she showed that males developing on good diet develop faster, have early peak in reproductive performance but aged faster and lived shorter than their counterparts developing on poor diet. High-condition males had larger bodies and won more fights than low-condition males.
Because natural selection optimizes fitness rather than longevity,good conditions in early life of a male may result in faster ageing and be detrimental to lifespan.
Martin spend four years as a postdoctoral fellow and researcher in our lab and now he has got the largest grant among those awarded for young investigators this round (4.7 M SEK in total over a period of 4 years).
In his project, Martin will investigate the role of environmental heterogeneity for life history evolution and how growth, development and reproduction affects lifespan and ageing in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis remanei.
This funding will enable Martin to start his own lab as an independent young PI and he will soon start recruiting!