Posts Tagged ‘sexual reproducton’
Who wants to live forever? Some flatworms do, even if it means no sex.
British scientists have found that a species of flatworm can overcome the process of ageing to become potentially immortal and say their work sheds light on possibilities of alleviating ageing and age-related characteristics in human cells.
…The researchers found that the flatworms, known as planarian worms, can continuously maintain the length of a crucial part of their DNA, known as telomeres, during regeneration.
“Our data satisfy one of the predictions about what it would take for an animal to be potentially immortal,” said Aziz Aboobaker, who led the research at Britain’s University of Nottingham. “The next goals for us are to understand the mechanisms in more detail and to understand more about how you evolve an immortal animal…”
Aboobaker’s team studied two types of planarian – those that reproduce sexually, like humans, and those that reproduce asexually by simply dividing in two.
Both types appear to regenerate indefinitely by growing new muscles, skin, guts and even entire brains again and again, Aboobaker explained in a statement about the work, but the asexual ones also renew their stocks of a key enzyme which may mean they can be immortal.
Scientists know that one of the key factors associated with ageing cells is telomere length. Telomeres are sections of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes, protecting them from damage and the loss of cell functions linked to ageing. Shorter telomeres are thought to be an indicator of faster ageing…
In most sexually reproducing organisms the enzyme is most active during early development, but Aboobaker’s team found that in the asexual worms, the planarian version of the enzyme is dramatically increased during regeneration – a factor that allows stem cells to maintain their telomeres as they divide to replace missing tissues…
Now, if they can just sort out the cause-and-effect relationship. We don’t want immortality gained by no sex. We don’t want no sex resulting from immortality.