Short-lived species have a much greater plasticity of life span in response to environmental circumstances than is the case for long-lived species such as our own. Among the most important factors are calorie intake and temperature of the surrounding environment. Both produce sweeping changes in metabolism, and are thus challenging to investigate. Nonetheless, researchers here appear to have identified one of the drivers of the relationship between temperature and lifespan in flies, centered around a portion of the innate immune system that may have multiple roles in the regulation of metabolism.
Fruit flies, which are ectothermic animals, can live more than twice as long at 18°C than at 25°C. Even though it has been thought that this enhanced longevity at a lower temperature (18°C) is caused by a change of metabolic rate, the mechanisms that regulate longevity by ambient temperature are poorly understood. Previously, we found that development at 18°C significantly enhances stress resistance of adult flies with more accumulation of nutrients (especially fat) in the body than development at 25°C. This enhanced resistance to stress was similarly observed in both sexes and sustained up to 30 days after hatching of the adult
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