Long-lived bats could keep secrets for the longevity of mammals



<div data-thumb = "https://3c1703fe8d.site.internapcdn.net/newman/csz/news/tmb/2019/longlivedbat.jpg" data-src = "https://3c1703fe8d.site.internapcdn.net/ newman / gfx / news / 2019 / longlivedbat.jpg "data-sub-html =" The common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundusIt is an example of a bat that can live more than four times more than a placental mammal that does not fly the same body size. Credit: G. Wilkinson ">

<img src = "https://3c1703fe8d.site.internapcdn.net/newman/csz/news/800/2019/longlivedbat.jpg" alt = "Long-lived bats could keep secrets for the longevity of mammals" title = "The common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundusIt is an example of a bat that can live more than four times more than a placental mammal that does not fly the same body size. Credit: G. Wilkinson "/>
The common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundusIt is an example of a bat that can live more than four times more than a placental mammal that does not fly the same body size. Credit: G. Wilkinson

Researchers at the University of Maryland badyzed an evolutionary tree reconstructed from the DNA of most known bat species and found four lineages of bats that exhibit extreme longevity. They also identified, for the first time, two characteristics of the history of life that predict extended life in bats.

His work is described in a research article, published in the April 10, 2019 edition of the journal. Biology letters, which concluded that horseshoe bats, long-eared bats, the common vampire bat and at least one lineage of mouse-eared bats live at least four times more than other mammals of similar size. The researchers also found that a range of households at higher latitudes and larger males than females can be used to predict the life of a given bat species.

"Scientists are very interested in finding closely related species in which one has a long life and the other is short, because it implies that there has been some recent change to allow a species to live longer," said Gerald Wilkinson, professor biology in the UMD. and main author of the article. "This study provides multiple cases of species closely related to a variable longevity, which gives us many opportunities to make comparisons and look for some underlying mechanism that allows some species to live so long."

Longevity often correlates with body size, since larger animal species generally live longer than smaller ones. For example, an African elephant can live up to 70 years, while a common mouse typically lives from one to three years. Humans are considered relatively long-lived animals, which tend to live about four times longer than most other mammals when they adjust to size. But bats can far exceed that. Some species can live 40 years, eight times more than mammals of similar size, which is why scientists have tried to understand bats as a model for healthy aging.

This is the first time that researchers reconstruct the longevity in an evolutionary tree of bats and use that information to compare traits that could explain the differences in lifespan between related species. Wilkinson and his co-author, the UMD graduate student in biological sciences, Danielle Adams, badyzed traits that were known to be related to longevity (body size, cave use, and hibernation), as well as traits that had not been previously considered, such as the latitude and size of the home. Differences between males and females.

The researchers found that bat species in hibernation located in more extreme latitudes live longer than those closest to the equator. Wilkinson said that researchers can not say with certainty how latitude affects longevity, but his study suggests that it may have to do with the ability of these bats to allow their body temperature to fluctuate. Because higher latitudes tend to require longer periods of hibernation, hibernating bats must be able to adjust their body temperature, which allows them to decrease significantly during hibernation and overheat during active times.

"Of the bat lineages that live a long time, three of them are hibernators and one of them is the vampire bat," said Wilkinson, who is also badociate dean of faculty affairs at the College of Computing, Mathematics and Natural Sciences. in UMD. "The vampire bat is very unusual for a mammal, since it can let the temperature of its body increase and decrease throughout the day."

This ability allows a vampire bat to conserve energy if it fails to obtain a blood meal. Scientists have previously suggested that the ability to tolerate variations in body temperature may allow some mammals to fight infections better than those without that ability. This happens to a limited extent in humans when the immune system attempts to kill a virus or a bacterial infection by raising body temperature and causing a fever.

However, not all adaptations prolong the service life. The identification of traits that correspond to a shorter life is also important to understand longevity. This study showed that bat species in which males are larger than females have a shorter lifespan than those in which males are the same size or smaller than females.

In most bat species, females are larger than males. (Scientists have speculated that this could be due to the need for females to fly while pregnant and carry their young.) But in some species of tropical bats, males are larger than females. Among these bats, competition for females may have led to a male-male aggression that favored the evolution of the larger male body size. According to Wilkinson, over time, switching to larger and larger males would have been advantageous for male partners, but badual conflict could also have led to increased mortality. Over time, high death rates due to aggression may have led to the life of shorter species, because the traits that confer physical dominance would have been more important than those that prolong life.

The researchers hope that this work can pave the way for more comparative studies that explain why certain traits are badociated with the duration of life.

"If we lived as long as bats, adjusted by size, we could live 240 years," Wilkinson said. "Everyone wants to know how these animals can live for so long, this kind of work can help us get the answers."

The research article, "Recurrent evolution of extreme longevity in bats," Gerald S. Wilkinson and Danielle Adams, was published in the journal. Biology letters on April 10, 2019.


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More information:
Gerald S. Wilkinson et al, Recurrent evolution of extreme longevity in bats, Biology letters (2019). DOI: 10.1098 / rsbl.2018.0860

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University of Maryland


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Long-lived bats could keep secrets for the longevity of mammals (2019, April 10)
recovered on April 11, 2019
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