The African turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri) is emerging as a new promising model organism in ageing research. It might not live long, but, during development, it can put aging on pause. To survive parched pond beds during months long dry seasons in the southernmost region of the African continent, killifish embryos can stop maturing for over six months. That pause can be even longer than their usual, uninterrupted lifespan. Those embryos that put off growing live as long, and have as many offspring, as embryos that never pause. According to the researchers, this prevents the embryos from needing critical resources when none is available in its environment. The embryo’s ability to stop damage that would happen over time is an extreme survival technique with no negative effects on the life span of a fully developed killifish. These discoveries could help to clarify unknown mechanisms to preserve cells and combat aging and age-related diseases in humans.
African turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri)
Interesting Facts about African turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri)
- Nothobranchius furzeri is a species of killifish from the family Nothobranchiidae native to Africa where it is only known from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
- Nothobranchius furzeri inhabits ephemeral pools in semi-arid areas with scarce and erratic precipitations and have adapted to the routine drying of their environment by evolving desiccation-resistant eggs that can remain dormant in the dry mud for one and maybe more years by entering into diapause.
- The natural lifespan of Nothobranchius furzeri these animals is limited to a few months and their captive lifespan is likewise short, making them an attractive model system for ageing and disease research.
- Tandem repeats comprise 21% of Nothobranchius furzeri genome, an abnormally high proportion, which has been suggested as a factor in its fast ageing.
- Among vertebrates, Nothobranchius furzeri has the fastest known sexual maturity (14 days after hatching) and shortest lifespan (Range: 3‒12 months).
- Nothobranchius furzeri can reach a total length of 6.5 cm.
- The name of Nothobranchius furzeri is derived from that of the discoverer Richard E. Furzer of Rhodesia.
Goldberg, J. 2020. Watch African killifish embryos enter suspended animation to survive. Science. doi:10.1126/science.abb2650
Wikipedia contributors. 2019. Nothobranchius furzeri. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 25, 2020.