An Update on Bacterial Immortality

While not directly relevant to healthy life extension in humans, it is, I think, important to remember that immortality surrounds us: the immortality of cells, bacteria, and the material from old individuals that grows into young children. Avoiding age-related degeneration and death is quite possible for biological systems - it is an unfortunate accident of physics that aging animals win out in the long haul of evolution. Here, more news from the New Scientist on the immortality - or not - of bacteria: "Ageing may be a strategic 'choice' for bacteria, since poor nutrition can lead to immortality in the single-celled organisms, a mathematical modelling study predicts. In 2005, their mortality was declared, after bacteria were shown to get old and die. That obituary is now looking premature. ... Organisms in nutrient-poor environments should be selected for symmetric division and therefore be immune to ageing. Bacteria on scanty nutrients grow slowly and presumably do not age - we know the possible mechanism now."



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