Speciale-projekt: miljøeffekter og en sund alderdom (03.06.2016)

Flies can help us understand ageing (Photo: Jesper Givskov Sørensen)

Delayed ageing as a function of developmental conditions in D. Melanogaster

Healthy ageing is a topic of interest for most humans. Although, ageing and senescence is not of huge evolutionary concern for natural populations, ageing is still shaped by evolutionary controlled processes. Furthermore, these processes are expected to be largely similar in all organisms, including flies and humans. Thus, we can use flies to explore effects and mechanisms of ageing and perform experiments and test hypotheses that are not possible in humans.

The project will explore the idea that developmental conditions markedly contribute to the rate of ageing in adult flies. It is well known that insects (and other ectotherms) will have increased metabolism and rate of ageing at higher temperatures, leading to differences between the absolute age (in days) and biological age (rate of biological decline in performance) between adults kept at different temperatures. However, recent results suggest that the developmental conditions (early life) might play an even larger role for the ageing later in life. We intend to explore the developmental effects using a suit of developmental conditions, at different stages in development. Further, we will investigate the ageing of selection lines that through evolutionary responses have increased the longevity/decreased their mortality rates with age. Finally, we intend to look at molecular ageing markers, to investigate the mechanisms of delayed ageing under different experimental conditions.

The project will be suited as a master thesis project.

Contact: Volker Loeschcke (volker@bios.au.dk), Jesper G. Sørensen (jesper.soerensen@bios.au.dk)

Read more/suggested literature:

  • Sørensen, J. G., Holmstrup, M., Sarup, P. and Loeschcke, V. (2010). Evolutionary theory and studies of model organisms predict a cautiously positive perspective on the therapeutic use of hormesis for healthy aging in humans. Dose-Response 8, 53-57.
  • Sørensen, J. G., Kristensen, T. N., Kristensen, K. V. and Loeschcke, V. (2007). Sex specific effects of heat induced hormesis in Hsf-deficient Drosophila melanogaster. Experimental Gerontology 42, 1123-1129.
  • Sarup, P., Sørensen, P., and Loeschcke, V. (2011). Flies selected for longevity retain a young gene expression profile. Age 33: 69-80.


De projekter der tager udgangspunkt i bananfluelaboratoriet handler primært om invertebraters evolutionære tilpasning til miljøfaktorer, som f.eks. temperatur og fugtighed, men kan omhandle andre effekter, som f.eks. indavl eller miljøstress. Vores tilgang er primært grundvidenskabelig og drevet af vores nysgerrighed, men kan også have mere anvendte perspektiver, f.eks. conservation, aldring eller bedre udnyttelse af arter der bruges til biologisk bekæmpelse. Ofte bruger vi bananfluer til eksperimenter, ikke fordi vi er specielt interesserede i bananfluers tilpasning, men fordi de er gode modelorganismer.