Aging in a very short-lived nematode

Michael P Gardner, David Gems, Mark E Viney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1267-76
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental gerontology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2004

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2004 Elsevier Inc.


  • Aging/physiology
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans/physiology
  • Female
  • Fertility/physiology
  • Fluorescence
  • Life Cycle Stages/physiology
  • Longevity/physiology
  • Male
  • Parasitology/methods
  • Species Specificity
  • Strongyloides ratti/physiology


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