An automated feeding system for the African killifish reveals the impact of diet on lifespan and allows scalable assessment of associative learning

Elife. 2022 Nov 10:11:e69008. doi: 10.7554/eLife.69008.


The African turquoise killifish is an exciting new vertebrate model for aging studies. A significant challenge for any model organism is the control over its diet in space and time. To address this challenge, we created an automated and networked fish feeding system. Our automated feeder is designed to be open-source, easily transferable, and built from widely available components. Compared to manual feeding, our automated system is highly precise and flexible. As a proof of concept for the feeding flexibility of these automated feeders, we define a favorable regimen for growth and fertility for the African killifish and a dietary restriction regimen where both feeding time and quantity are reduced. We show that this dietary restriction regimen extends lifespan in males (but not in females) and impacts the transcriptomes of killifish livers in a sex-specific manner. Moreover, combining our automated feeding system with a video camera, we establish a quantitative associative learning assay to provide an integrative measure of cognitive performance for the killifish. The ability to precisely control food delivery in the killifish opens new areas to assess lifespan and cognitive behavior dynamics and to screen for dietary interventions and drugs in a scalable manner previously impossible with traditional vertebrate model organisms.

Keywords: African killifish; N. furzeri; Nothobranchius furzeri; genetics; genomics; turquoise killifish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African People
  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Fundulidae*
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Male

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE216369