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Mech Ageing Dev 1983 Jul-Aug;22(3-4):279-86
The free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is used as a genetically manipulable experimental system for the study of aging. Utilizing a temperature-sensitive sterile strain with a normal life span, a method is described for the isolation of mutant strains with significantly increased life spans. Eight mutant strains were isolated each having increased life spans. Two mutant strains were spontaneous dauer formers, accounting for their increased longevity. Another was chemotaxis-defective, causing reduced food intake which could account for its increased life span. Five mutants suffered from varying degrees of paralysis affecting their rate of pharyngeal pumping and food ingestion. The high correlation of the decreased rate of food ingestion of these mutants with their increased longevity is interpreted as indicating that the increased longevity is most likely due to reduced caloric intake. These results appear to indicate that specific life span genes are extremely rare or, alternatively, life span is controlled in a polygenic fashion.