Aging in a very short-lived nematode

Exp Gerontol. 2004 Sep;39(9):1267-76. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2004.06.011.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

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