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Long live the queen: studying aging in social insects

Long live the queen: studying aging in social insects
Long live the queen: studying aging in social insects
Aging is a fascinating, albeit controversial, chapter in biology. Few other subjects have elicited more than a century of ever-increasing scientific interest. In this review, we discuss studies on aging in social insects, a group of species that includes ants and termites, as well as certain bee and wasp species. One striking feature of social insects is the lifespan of queens (reproductive females), which can reach nearly 30 years in some ant species. This is over 100 times the average lifespan of solitary insects. Moreover, there is a tremendous variation in lifespan among castes, with queens living up to 500 times longer than males and 10 times longer than workers (non-reproductive individuals). This lifespan polymorphism has allowed researchers to test the evolutionary theory of aging and – more recently – to investigate the proximate causes of aging. The originality of these studies lies in their use of naturally evolved systems to address questions related to aging and lifespan determination that cannot be answered using the conventional model organisms.
aging, disposable soma, evolutionary theory, social insects
0161-9152
241-248
Jemielity, Stephanie
8ce8bcd2-5295-451c-a989-6008ee251476
Chapuisat, Michel
33620007-5b22-4508-bc99-0aa8a2287f11
Parker, Joel.D.
bf101f4d-fb68-4243-a33d-e0a52b4cbb68
Keller, Laurent
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Jemielity, Stephanie
8ce8bcd2-5295-451c-a989-6008ee251476
Chapuisat, Michel
33620007-5b22-4508-bc99-0aa8a2287f11
Parker, Joel.D.
bf101f4d-fb68-4243-a33d-e0a52b4cbb68
Keller, Laurent
611d36ad-d793-4e13-a9d5-1a2e6496e834

Jemielity, Stephanie, Chapuisat, Michel, Parker, Joel.D. and Keller, Laurent (2005) Long live the queen: studying aging in social insects. Age, 27 (3), 241-248. (doi:10.1007/s11357-005-2916-z).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Aging is a fascinating, albeit controversial, chapter in biology. Few other subjects have elicited more than a century of ever-increasing scientific interest. In this review, we discuss studies on aging in social insects, a group of species that includes ants and termites, as well as certain bee and wasp species. One striking feature of social insects is the lifespan of queens (reproductive females), which can reach nearly 30 years in some ant species. This is over 100 times the average lifespan of solitary insects. Moreover, there is a tremendous variation in lifespan among castes, with queens living up to 500 times longer than males and 10 times longer than workers (non-reproductive individuals). This lifespan polymorphism has allowed researchers to test the evolutionary theory of aging and – more recently – to investigate the proximate causes of aging. The originality of these studies lies in their use of naturally evolved systems to address questions related to aging and lifespan determination that cannot be answered using the conventional model organisms.

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More information

Published date: 1 September 2005
Keywords: aging, disposable soma, evolutionary theory, social insects

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 56569
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/56569
ISSN: 0161-9152
PURE UUID: 850ecefa-fbda-4b29-9e3a-050ef903e1ce

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Date deposited: 08 Aug 2008
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 20:35

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Contributors

Author: Stephanie Jemielity
Author: Michel Chapuisat
Author: Joel.D. Parker
Author: Laurent Keller

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