Last year, FRAME awarded a grant to Dr Leda Mirbahai and PhD Student Julia Constantinou to help fund research into characterising the water flea Daphnia magna as an invertebrate model for ageing research. The project involving the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick, have recently published the article ‘Ageing differently: Sex-dependent ageing rates in Daphnia magna’ in Experimental Gerontology.1
Ageing and age-related diseases are often studied using more complex and longer-lived vertebrate models such as the rat or pig. The aim of this research is to provide evidence that will help establish Daphnia as a short-lived invertebrate model for studying various mechanisms of ageing. In this paper, physiological and molecular markers between genetically identical male and female Daphnia magna are analysed.
Physiological biomarkers such as lifespan, heart rate, growth rate and swimming speed were compared between the genders as well as molecular markers observing DNA damage and repair across lifespan to provide information on gender differences in longevity.
Key findings from this paper show that the lifespan of clonal female and male D. magna are significantly different and that there are age-related changes occurring at different rates between the genders that fit in-line with the DNA damage theory of ageing. These findings support the use of D. magna as a model to investigate sex difference and longevity – a well-known but little understood phenomena expressed across many species. This also opens the door for age-related research into the contribution of genetic and epigenetic factors, hormones and environmental factors in determining lifespan and ageing rate using D. magna.
- Constantinou A., Sullivan J. & Mirbahai L. (2019). Ageing differently: Sex-dependent ageing rates in Daphnia magna. Experimental Gerontology 121 (2019), pp 33 – 45.