University of Colorado at Boulder scientists have used a fluorescent marker to predict the individual life spans of identical worms that were genetically engineered to illuminate stress levels, implying living organisms have "hidden physiological states" that dictate their ability to deal with the rigors of life.
According to CU-Boulder Research Associate Shane Rea, the genetically identical nematodes were engineered with a green fluorescent "reporter" protein coupled to a stress protein that is present in most multicellular organisms as a monitor of cellular health. The eyelash-sized, translucent worms that fluoresced the brightest after being subjected to high temperatures as young adults had significantly longer life expectancies than those that were less bright, the team reported.
"We have shown its possible to predict the life span in an organism on the first day of adult life based on how it responds to stress," said CU-Boulder Professor Thomas Johnson. "This is something that has not been done before, and has implications for human longevity and health."
Shane Rea | EurekAlert!
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