Researchers have found a reason to distrust the results of past nematode life span studies with modest effect sizes, even those that controlled for the effects of dietary intake on longevity, a now well-known issue in animal studies that has caused plenty of problems in the past. The researchers have found that light exposure affects the life span of the commonly used Caenorhabditis elegans species of nematode. Their data shows a sizable difference between conditions of permanent light and permanent darkness, but the problem would arise more subtly in comparison between studies where duration, intensity, and type of lighting varied – say, by season, by employee hours, by building fixtures, by nematode housing, and so forth. By the sound of it, this is bad news for near all past life span studies carried out with nematodes, casting doubt on a large amount of exploratory data in the field of aging research.
Historically, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans was believed to lack the ability to sense light due to the absence of a bona fide photoreceptor system and its original isolation in soil samples. However, recent work in C. elegans has identified the LITE-1 taste receptor
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