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Combining metabolomics and experimental evolution reveals key mechanisms underlying longevity differences in laboratory evolved Drosophila melanogaster populations

Citation

Phillips, Mark et al. (2022), Combining metabolomics and experimental evolution reveals key mechanisms underlying longevity differences in laboratory evolved Drosophila melanogaster populations, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.547d7wm92

Abstract

Experimental evolution with Drosophila melanogaster has been used extensively for decades to study aging and longevity. In recent years, the addition of DNA and RNA sequencing to this framework has allowed researchers to leverage the statistical power inherent to experimental evolution to study the genetic basis of longevity itself. Here, we incorporated metabolomic data into to this framework to generate even deeper insights into the physiological and genetic mechanisms underlying longevity differences in three groups of experimentally evolved D. melanogaster populations with different aging and longevity patterns. Our metabolomic analysis found that aging alters mitochondrial metabolism through increased consumption of NAD+ and increased usage of the TCA cycle. Combining our genomic and metabolomic data produced a list of biologically relevant candidate genes. Among these candidates, we found significant enrichment for genes and pathways associated with neurological development and function, and carbohydrate metabolism. While we do not explicitly find enrichment for aging canonical genes, neurological dysregulation and carbohydrate metabolism are both known to be associated with accelerated aging and reduced longevity. Taken together, our results provide plausible genetic mechanisms for what might be driving longevity differences in this experimental system. More broadly, our findings demonstrate the value of combining multiple types of omic data with experimental evolution when attempting to dissect mechanisms underlying complex and highly polygenic traits such as aging.