Annual fishes of the genus Nothobranchius as a model system for aging research

Aging Cell. 2005 Oct;4(5):223-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2005.00165.x.


Aging research in vertebrates is hampered by the lack of short-lived models. Annual fishes of the genus Nothobranchius live in East African seasonal ponds. Their life expectancy in the wild is limited by the duration of the wet season and their lifespan in captivity is also short. Nothobranchius are popular aquarium fishes and many different species are kept as captive strains, providing rich material for comparative studies. The present paper aims at reviving the interest in these fishes by reporting that: (1) Nothobranchius can be cultured, and their eggs stored dry at room temperature for months or years, offering inexpensive methods of embryo storage; (2) Nothobranchius show accelerated growth and expression of aging biomarkers at the level of histology and behaviour; (3) the species Nothobranchius furzeri has a maximum lifespan of only 3 months and offers the possibility to perform investigations thus far unthinkable in a vertebrate, such as drug screening with life-long pharmacological treatments and experimental evolution; (4) when the lifespan of different species is compared, a general correlation is found between wet season duration in their natural habitat and longevity in captivity; and (5) vertebrate aging-related genes, such as p66Shc and MTP, can be easily isolated in Nothobranchius by homology cloning. These fishes can become excellent models for aging studies. They can be employed to test the effects of experimental manipulation on aging at a pace comparable with that of Drosophila and to probe the effects of natural selection on the evolution of aging-related genes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging* / genetics
  • Aging* / physiology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Biomarkers
  • Cyprinodontiformes / physiology*
  • Female
  • Life Expectancy
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phenotype
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Survival Rate


  • Biomarkers