Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Secrets to rockfish longevity revealed

Yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) can live up to 140 years or so! Photo Credit: OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP); Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game

Rockfish have gained the attention of scientists due to their exceptional longevity. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley sequenced the complete genome of 88 species of rockfish in the Pacific Ocean to try to find clues that could explain their longevity. While some are rather short-lived (ex: calico rockfish, Sebastes dallii, only live around 10 years), longer-lived species, like rougheye rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus), can live to be over 200 years old!

The researchers identified 137 variations in genes that were associated with longer lifespans. In general, larger fish and those that live deep in the ocean live longer. The water is colder at depth, which slows down metabolism. So simply living in the deep can increase the lifespan of these fish. The researchers also found that long-lived species had higher numbers of genes that modulate the immune system compared to shorter-lived species. In addition, long-lived species had more genes associated with DNA repair and variations in insulin-regulating genes that can alter lifespan.

Given this information, I am starting to think that I need to use a longer fishing line to catch bigger fish…


SRR Kolora, GL Owens, JM Vazquez, A Stubbs, K Chatla, C Jainese, K Seeto, M McCrea, MW Sandel, JA Vianna, K Maslenikov, D Bachtrog, JW Orr, M Love, PH Sudmant. Origins and evolution of extreme life span in Pacific Ocean rockfishes. Science. 374(6569): 842-847, 2021.

Categories: Aging, Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Livestock, Environment, Extreme Animals, Ocean Life

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