Genetics that make the only animal in the world immortal have been revealed
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Featured Image Credit: BBC
What if I told you the Fountain of Youth exists?
But the fountain is, in fact, not a fountain. And youth isn't exactly youth. I'd be chatting pure s**t if that was the case.
However, it turns out that there is actually one species that has the capacity to age backwards, just like Benjamin Button.
Formally known as Turritopsis dohrnii, there's at least three types of hydra that can live forever and turn from an adult to a juvenile. And then from a juvenile to an adult.
About as wide as your pinky nail, the 'immortal jellyfish' returns to its polyp stage over a three-day period, transforming its cells into a younger state so it will eventually grow into adulthood all over again.
"The jellyfish turns itself into a bloblike cyst, which then develops into a polyp colony, essentially the first stage in jellyfish life," Ker Than of National Geographic says.
"The jellyfish's cells are often completely transformed in the process. Muscle cells can become nerve cells or even sperm or eggs.
"Through asexual reproduction, the resulting polyp colony can spawn hundreds of genetically identical jellyfish—near perfect copies of the original adult.
"This unique approach to hardship may be helping Turritopsis swarms spread throughout the world's oceans."
A study - Comparative genomics of mortal and immortal cnidarians unveils novel keys behind rejuvenation - basically takes a deeper look into it all.
It states: "Turritopsis dohrnii is the only metazoan able to rejuvenate repeatedly after its medusae reproduce, hinting at biological immortality and challenging our understanding of ageing."
Adding: "We have identified variants and expansions of genes associated with replication, DNA repair, telomere maintenance, redox environment, stem cell population, and intercellular communication."
It also points out: "Natural selection declines with age and particularly affects genes that are important in prereproductive phenotypes, regardless of their postreproductive effects.
"Thus, variants that are damaging only late in life are not readily eliminated from the gene pool. Consequently, ageing has evolved over time through modulation of traits related to the hallmarks of health or to the determinants of aging, such as cellular senescence or genomic instability, which impair pluripotency and regeneration potentials."
In other words, don't be expecting the cure for death any time soon.
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