Furbellow (Brown Algae) Extract Increases Lifespan in Drosophila by Interfering with TOR-Signaling

Nutrients. 2020 Apr 22;12(4):1172. doi: 10.3390/nu12041172.


Algal products are well known for their health promoting effects. Nonetheless, an in depth understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms is still only fragmentary. Here, we show that aqueous furbelow extracts (brown algae, Saccorhiza polyschides) lengthen the life of both sexes of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster substantially, if used as nutritional additives to conventional food. This life prolonging effect became even more pronounced in the presence of stressors, such as high-fat dieting of living under drought conditions. Application of the extracts did not change food intake, excretion, or other major physiological parameters. Nevertheless, effects on the intestinal microbiota were observed, leading to an increased species richness, which is usually associated with healthy conditions. Lifespan extension was not observed in target of rapamycin (TOR)-deficient animals, implying that functional TOR signaling is necessary to unfold the positive effects of brown algae extract (BAE) on this important trait. The lack of life lengthening in animals with deregulated TOR signaling exclusively targeted to body fat showed that this major energy storage organ is instrumental for transmitting these effects. In addition, expression of Imaginal morphogenesis protein-Late 2 (Imp-L2), an effective inhibitor of insulin signaling implies that BAE exerts their positive effects through interaction with the tightly interwoven TOR- and insulin-signaling systems, although insulin levels were not directly affected by this intervention.

Keywords: Drosophila melanogaster; Imp-L2; Saccorhiza polyschides; TOR signaling; brown algae; insulin signaling; lifespan.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / drug effects*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Phaeophyta / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Plant Extracts
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases