Spaceflight Extends Worms Lifetime
Spacefaring worms undergo genetic changes associated with longer lives in their Earth-bound cousins, research has shown. A number of Caenorhabditis elegans worms were carried aboard a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and brought back for study. Researchers found reduced activity of five genes in the worms that, when suppressed in the species on Earth, lead to longer lifetimes. The work appears in Scientific Reports.
The nematode C. elegans is among the world’s most-studied animals. They have been routinely taken as cargo on space missions to study in a simple organism the biological changes that future human spacefarers may face; the worms even survived the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003.