Aging has been characterised in detail in relatively few animal species. Here we describe the aging process in free-living adults of the parasitic nematode Strongyloides ratti. We find that the phenomenology of aging in S. ratti free-living females, resembles that of the short-lived free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, except that it unfolds far more rapidly. The mean (3.0 +/- 0.1 days) and maximum (4.5 +/- 0.8 days) lifespans of free-living S. ratti females are approximately one quarter of equivalent values for C. elegans. Demographic senescence (a hallmark of aging) was observed in free-living S. ratti, with a mortality rate doubling time of 0.8 +/- 0.1 days (females), compared with 2.0 +/- 0.3 in C. elegans. S. ratti lifetime fertility and lifespan were affected by temperature, and there is an age-related decline in feeding rate and movement, similar to C. elegans, but occurring more quickly. Gut autofluorescence (lipofuscin) also increased with age in S. ratti free-living females, as in aging C. elegans. These findings show that the extreme brevity of life in free-living S. ratti adults, the shortest-lived nematode described to date, is the consequence of rapid aging, rather than some other, more rapid and catastrophic life-shortening pathology.
Bibliographical noteCopyright 2004 Elsevier Inc.
- Caenorhabditis elegans/physiology
- Life Cycle Stages/physiology
- Species Specificity
- Strongyloides ratti/physiology