The Naturally short-lived African Turquoise killfish sheds light on the evolutionary basis of vertebrate ageing

Our lab research is focused on identifying the evolutionary genomic basis of vertebrate longevity and ageing. We use the turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri) as a reference model organism, a fish characterized by embryonic diapause, rapid sexual maturation and the shortest lifespan among all captive vertebrates (4 months in the GRZ strain). Taking advantage of the natural diversity in ageing and longevity phenotypes among different turquoise killifish populations, we use comparative genomics and population genetics to investigate the evolution of the genomic bases of extreme lifespan phenotypes. Since killifish have highly complex gut microbial commensal communities and are equipped with a lymphocyte-based adaptive immune system, we recently started to investigate how the gut microbial population interacts with the host immune function to modulate the ageing process. We additionally develop theoretical models and numerical simulations to simulate the evolution of biological ageing under different constraints and ask the fundamental question of how natural selection shapes the evolution of different life history traits, such as growth and individual survival.