Physiological constraints and evolutionary trade-offs underlying bacterial aging, caloric restriction and longevity

Abstract : The evolutionary theories of aging and the disposable soma theory in particular, have been the theoretical basis for a recent surge of animal aging research. Yet their central assumption about the physiology of cellular maintenance and repair has not been empirically tested. In this thesis, I analysed the physiology of E.coli aging under carbon starvation, as a model system to empirically validate evolutionary theories of aging. Microfluidic tools are used to isolate large populations of isogenic single E.coli cells, and to achieve homogenous carbon starvation. Despite sharing the same genetical background and environmental conditions, individual cells in the population exhibit significant variations in lifespans and causes of death. Distributions of lifespans exhibit typical features of the aging process, often seen in animal and human demographic studies. The rate of aging can be altered by mutations of the general stress response pathway. Resembling caloric restriction induced longevity, the general stress response pathway extends starvation lifespans of E.coli by attenuating the effect of aging at the expense of immediate needs of the cells. A quantitative model of this physiological trade-off is constructed and correctly predicted experimental observations. As a conclusion, I substantiate the disposable soma theory of aging with the physiological details of E.coli aging in starvation.
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Yifan Yang. Physiological constraints and evolutionary trade-offs underlying bacterial aging, caloric restriction and longevity. Human health and pathology. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015USPCB158⟩. ⟨tel-01588777v2⟩

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