Friday November 12, 2021

Scientific American

Few groups of animals encapsulate the extremes of longevity more than fish. While coral reef pygmy govies survive for less than ten weeks, Greenland sharks can endure more than 500 years. So when a team of biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, wanted to explore the genetics of aging, they grabbed their fishing gear.

Their preferred catch was rockfish. Found in coastal waters from California to Japan, rockfish are a colorful group of more than 120 species in the genus Sebastes. Some of these closely related species live for only a decade. Others, such as the rougheye rockfish, can live for more than 200 years.

The diversity of rockfish life spans offered the perfect parameters for parsing the genetics behind longevity, according to U.C. Berkeley biologist Peter Sudmant. In a study published on Thursday in Science, Sudmant and his colleagues sifted through the genomes of 88 rockfish species and pinpointed 137 specific genes that boosted the life spans of species such as the rougheye.

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