Worms programmed to die young

Is it natural that a being prefers not to be long-lived? From a human perspective, of course, no. But the fact is that people are not like worms. Except maybe for some political leaders. But not when it comes to longevity. There is a type of worm that is programmed to die young or at least before age.

What is the goal? Prefer your species. This emerges from a study published in "Aging Cell". It was produced by the Institute for Healthy Aging at University College London. It is the first programmed and adaptive death test on an animal that benefits its entire colony. And yes, it is very bad that you think about it for some individuals of our species.

There are worms that are programmed to die young for the good of the colony.
There are worms that are programmed to die young for the good of the colony. Here is a picture of C. elegans.
Outside the norm

“According to the theory of evolution, altruistic death does not normally favor evolution. This is because other beings who live longer would consume the resources leave the altruists. That would be a tragedy for the general public, "says David Gems, lead author." But it was recently discovered that something of the kind Caenorhabditis elegans. Live in identical worm colonies. This would prevent worms with long-lived genes from taking advantage of their condition. "

Science shows that the longest-lived specimens are generally favored by natural selection. However, certain organisms have a kind of "self-destruction program". It would prevent them from living beyond a certain age. The example is C. elegans.

In the current study, UCL researchers examined the details of the life cycle of C. elegans. They wanted to understand why programmed death works for them. They did this through computer models and created a virtual colony that grew based on a limited food supply. So they discovered how a shorter life and a more concentrated reproductive period had an impact. The reduced feeding rate in adults increased the colony's reproductive success.

On the other hand, longevity is a desired goal in the human species.
On the other hand, longevity is a desired goal in the human species.
Other candidates

"It is known that programmed cell death benefits living organisms, but now we are seeing that it also occurs in some whole organisms. Whole colonies can benefit," explains lead author Evgeniy Galimov.

The results have important implications for studies on the biology of aging. Other animals have genes similar to these beings that shorten life expectancy and promote late illness. A better understanding of gene function could contribute to medical research. However, the researchers warn that adaptive death "only develops under certain special conditions. Populations of closely related people do not mix with relatives. Therefore, this is not expected to apply to humans. But there seems to be a lot in the colonial microorganisms happen ».

In addition to worms programmed to die young, there are other candidates for "programmed" death. The researchers note that some types of salmon that spawn and die in large numbers in the upper reaches of rivers could be another example. "Dead and rotten salmon have been shown to nourish youngsters," they say.

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