Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been widely used as a model organism in studies of replicative ageing and senescence. The relevance of these studies to ageing in other organisms has, however, been questioned, since this yeast divides by budding rather than fission, the more common pattern in higher organisms. Here we report that, contrary to popular belief, the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe also undergoes replicative senescence and in a manner superficially analogous to budding yeast. These experiments provide the first evidence of age asymmetry in cell fission and are consistent with the hypothesis of Jazwinski, that asymmetric division underlies culture immortality. Given their evolutionary divergence, comparison of the ageing determinants in fission and budding yeasts may help identify common mechanisms of the ageing process.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.