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Thread: shortest lived insects

  1. #1
    Theoretical Experimentalist
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    shortest lived insects

    So far I have caenorhabditis elegans (worm) which has a lifespan of about 20 days, and drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) which lives to about 30 days. I would like to find something that lives as short as possible but is as closely related to higher eukaryotes as possible.

    Can you name an organism that lives naturally to less than 10 days?? This would be much better for the experiment that I am trying to run in the near future.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    obscurely fossiliferous Stoniphi's Avatar
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    Try mold gnats. Though they seem to live forever, I think their natural life is pretty short.

  3. #3
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    Define "live".

    Most insects have at least one stage in their life cycle in which they can remain more or less dormant for quite a while.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoniphi View Post
    Try mold gnats. Though they seem to live forever, I think their natural life is pretty short.
    28-36 days, so not much better than drosophila.
    http://www.umass.edu/umext/floricult...t/fungnat.html
    Thanks though!

    I could try breeding a short-lived strain, but I'm not sure if this would make my experiment accurate. It might just select for deleterious mutations, which I would later have to fix anyways.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Define "live".

    Most insects have at least one stage in their life cycle in which they can remain more or less dormant for quite a while.
    Good point. I mean from the point of the egg being laid to the time when the winged insect dies. but this does bring up some other questions. It would be easier to approximate human lifespan using nematodes since they have a simpler life cycle.. so maybe the nematodes would be better, but then again the flies are genetically more closely related to people than the worms.

  5. #5
    Registered Senior Member soullust's Avatar
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    Mayfly

    the mayfly adult lives only 1-3 days i beleive?

    But the larva in water can live up to 1 year

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by DRZion View Post
    So far I have caenorhabditis elegans (worm) which has a lifespan of about 20 days, and drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) which lives to about 30 days. I would like to find something that lives as short as possible but is as closely related to higher eukaryotes as possible.

    Can you name an organism that lives naturally to less than 10 days?? This would be much better for the experiment that I am trying to run in the near future.

    Thanks!
    C elegans isn't an insect so you can scratch it off your list.

  7. #7
    what about butterflies?

    im pretty sure they live about 2 weeks... then again, depends if you're counting their larva stage or not

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkitScience View Post
    what about butterflies?

    im pretty sure they live about 2 weeks... then again, depends if you're counting their larva stage or not
    Of course you will have to count the larval stage. Larva are alive and they are insects.
    But perhaps what DRZion is after is the insect with the shortest reproductive stage.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr MacGillivray View Post
    C elegans isn't an insect so you can scratch it off your list.
    Hehe, close enough for me .. point is its small enough to grow in a test tube and multicellular. However, I am not only looking for insects, any small multicellular eukaryote will do.

    Quote Originally Posted by soullust View Post
    Mayfly

    the mayfly adult lives only 1-3 days i beleive?

    But the larva in water can live up to 1 year
    and
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkitScience View Post
    what about butterflies?

    im pretty sure they live about 2 weeks... then again, depends if you're counting their larva stage or not
    I would think total lifespan and not just one stage. But I'm not sure what characterizes these stages in the lives of mayflies and butterflies. Do the muscles of old butterflies (2 weeks) start wearing out? What about their nervous system? If this is true for mayflies and butterflies then they would do well as model organisms. This is true for old nematodes, they have similar aging symptoms as humans.

    Now that I think about it flies may be inferior to nematodes due to their complex life cycle. But I would have to do more research before I am certain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Enmos View Post
    But perhaps what DRZion is after is the insect with the shortest reproductive stage.
    I was thinking about this and its not necessarily true, and I don't want to select for extended lifespan based on host genetics either. That wouldn't be very helpful for humans, unless eugenics is an option.. Instead I would use the insect as a host for a symbiotic microbe and then select for the symbiotic microbe to extend lifespan. We cannot really apply any large scale gene therapy to human beings and so I am looking for simple chemicals which will affect gene expression, chemicals that the microbe might secrete given millions of generations and interactions. I am talking INDUSTRIAL SCALE. I want a pool of these things dammit!

  10. #10
    Sarcoptes scabiei lives up to 10 days.

    that's a mite.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr MacGillivray View Post
    Sarcoptes scabiei lives up to 10 days.

    that's a mite.
    So it's not an insect!

  12. #12
    Be kind to yourself always. cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    The shortest lived insects are the ones that either crawl onto me or land on me and I swat them dead!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Enmos View Post
    So it's not an insect!
    Yes, because the thread owner re-specified his demands: multicellular eukaryote.

  14. #14
    Ignorance killed the cat Randwolf's Avatar
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    Well, if we can get the OP to stand still...

    I always had the general impression that some of the many Mayfly species were the shortest lived insects, but was always thinking of the adult phase - 1 or 2 days, I believe.

    Then we have the lovely "love-bugs" found in the southern US:
    Adult lovebugs have a short lifespan, with males living for 2-3 days, and females about a week. On top of that, they only fly during daylight hours, resting at night on low growing vegetation. That gives them a small window of opportunity to mate, so they use their time wisely. After laying eggs, the female will typically die 3-4 days later. The larvae will then develop in damp areas under dead or decaying plant matter.

    Unfortunately these interesting insects swarm when looking for mates and while mating. During these few weeks out of the year, their swarming can lead to minor inconveniences for us. They have been shown to be attracted to vehicle exhaust fumes, which can lead to clogging up vehicle grills, smearing windshields, and damaging paint.
    They are a serious pain in the ass when they swarm. (They may even be a species of Mayfly, I'm not sure - there are a lot of different types...) I don't know how long the larval stage lasts, though.


    Quote Originally Posted by DRZion View Post
    Can you name an organism that lives naturally to less than 10 days??
    This got me thinking, so I Googled, these guys may qualify:
    There is no larval stage (Ramel 2008). The average life span of a gastrotrich is very short, about 3 to 21 days (Ramel 2008).
    On the other end of the scale, I believe some termite queens live 40 - 50 years!

    Hope this helps...

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr MacGillivray View Post
    Yes, because the thread owner re-specified his demands: multicellular eukaryote.
    Oh duh.. I missed that

  16. #16

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr MacGillivray View Post
    Sarcoptes scabiei lives up to 10 days.

    that's a mite.
    Maybe these mite work. I'm not sure how complex life cycles work with aging.. I have a feeling these mites only live for 10 days until the next stage, to which they advance if they have the food.

    I am not sure, but I think that mayflies live for only 2 days is because they cannot eat. As in they have no mouth. This would suggest that they do not die of old age but starvation. In the case of the mite it would either die of starvation or advance to the next stage.

    Gastrotrichs, YES!

    Quote Originally Posted by Randwolf View Post
    Well, if we can get the OP to stand still...
    Hehe, I have recently started working at an experimental evolution lab and I am trying to figure out everything and everything one could achieve using directed evolution. After all, evolution is the source of all genetic diversity and biochemistry.

    This summer I hope to learn to what extent microbes can be trained to do things, given the appropriate artificial selection.

    Quote Originally Posted by Randwolf View Post
    I always had the general impression that some of the many Mayfly species were the shortest lived insects, but was always thinking of the adult phase - 1 or 2 days, I believe.

    This got me thinking, so I Googled, these guys may qualify:

    On the other end of the scale, I believe some termite queens live 40 - 50 years!

    Hope this helps...
    Indeed! Now I will have to read up on these things to see if they have any symbiotes and how they age, and if they have a nervous system. I would hope their muscles start degenerating and that they have a nervous system like nematodes. Since these things are tiny it may be possible to run an experiment on flies, nematodes and gastrotrichs, basically in a single box!

    The 3-21 day range is fairly broad. It is the same with nematodes and fruit flies, depending on temperature. They live the shortest at their optimal temperature because thats when their metabolism is the fastest. As metabolism slows down they live longer but reproduce more slowly.

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