shortest lived insects

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by DRZion, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. DRZion Theoretical Experimentalist Valued Senior Member

    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.

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  3. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    Try mold gnats. Though they seem to live forever, I think their natural life is pretty short.
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    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.
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  7. DRZion Theoretical Experimentalist Valued Senior Member

    28-36 days, so not much better than drosophila.
    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.

    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.
  8. soullust Registered Senior Member


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

    But the larva in water can live up to 1 year
  9. Mr MacGillivray Banned Banned

    C elegans isn't an insect so you can scratch it off your list.
  10. MarkitScience Registered Senior Member

    what about butterflies?

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

    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.
  12. DRZion Theoretical Experimentalist Valued Senior Member

    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.

    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.

    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!
  13. Mr MacGillivray Banned Banned

    Sarcoptes scabiei lives up to 10 days.

    that's a mite.
  14. Enmos Staff Member

    So it's not an insect! :p
  15. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    The shortest lived insects are the ones that either crawl onto me or land on me and I swat them dead! :D
  16. Mr MacGillivray Banned Banned

    Yes, because the thread owner re-specified his demands: multicellular eukaryote.
  17. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

    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:
    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.

    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...
  18. Enmos Staff Member

    Oh duh.. I missed that :eek:
  19. joepistole Nec Sperno Nec Timeo Valued Senior Member

  20. DRZion Theoretical Experimentalist Valued Senior Member

    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!

    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.

    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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