The secret of longevity is hidden in a fish that lives 200 years

In the depths of the oceans, scientists have found the oldest animals on Earth that surpass even mammals such as the elephant or the human being. For example, the Greenland shark that can live 500 years and a clam that reaches 11,000 years. However, to date, the reason for its long existence was unknown. Now, a new study has found the genetic secrets of a species of rockfish that lives for more than 200 years.

The research was published in Science and has earned the cover of the prestigious scientific journal.

Rockfish live in the coastal waters of California and Japan and are often known by their genus: Sebastes. However, the number of species of Sebastes is abysmal. These are 120 in total, which differ both in characteristics and life expectancy.

Thus, for example, while the coloring Sebastes dallii lives just over a decade; Sebastes aleutianus red and beige and the oldest of all, it can live peacefully for more than two centuries. This very pronounced difference between them draws the attention of scientists since they are all closely related since their remote origin 10 million years ago.

Motivated by this plurality, the researchers obtained tissue samples from 88 species, compared their genomes and discovered what are the secrets of the long life expectancy of some of them.

To date, scientists had discovered that the senescence of various animals was due to their size and habitat. The larger body of an animal reduces the chances of being predated (think of the elephant and mice, for example) and also generates a slower metabolism, which is influenced by a diet with fewer calories. A slow metabolism is also achieved in cold and icy environments, such as Greenland sharks that can for centuries.

According to UC Berkeley biologist Peter Sudmant “rockfish are the perfect storm – they live in the depths of the water and some of these older mothers get very big.” “You have all these things at stake that allow them to live for a long time,” he adds.

Likewise, after the comparison between short and long-lived rockfish, 137 specific genes related to longevity were found.

Among the most prominent groups are those oriented to repair damaged DNA (making you less likely to develop cancer) and regulate insulin. But above all a group of immunomodulatory genes (called butyrophyllins) which regulate chronic inflammation, a disposition related to the aging of the immune system.

Likewise, the authors found that a disadvantage of longevity is the smaller populations that depend on old but very fertile females. Furthermore, the mortality of the offspring is much higher in the longest-lived species.

For Sudmant, although this discovery will not enhance the longevity of human beings, “it allows us to potentially think about which pathways and genes should be key targets in our human studies and the drugs we develop”.