Mortality patterns suggest lack of senescence in hydra

Exp Gerontol. 1998 May;33(3):217-25. doi: 10.1016/s0531-5565(97)00113-7.


Senescence, a deteriorative process that increases the probability of death of an organism with increasing chronological age, has been found in all metazoans where careful studies have been carried out. There has been much controversy, however, about the potential immortality of hydra, a solitary freshwater member of the phylum Cnidaria, one of the earliest diverging metazoan groups. Researchers have suggested that hydra is capable of escaping aging by constantly renewing the tissues of its body. But no data have been published to support this assertion. To test for the presence or absence of aging in hydra, mortality and reproductive rates for three hydra cohorts have been analyzed for a period of four years. The results provide no evidence for aging in hydra: mortality rates have remained extremely low and there are no apparent signs of decline in reproductive rates. Hydra may have indeed escaped senescence and may be potentially immortal.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Hydra / physiology*
  • Mortality
  • Reproduction / physiology