Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dumber Drosophila Drudge on Longer

Ahh, drosophila, the common fruit fly. She has long been the mascot of the student association of technical physics in Vienna, due to her ability to spontaneously spring into existence in huge numbers over stale puddles of wine.

New and exciting research has now shown that dumber drosophila live longer - something I have long suspected when observing with disgust the unwashed masses.

LEARNING ABILITY AND LONGEVITY: A SYMMETRICAL EVOLUTIONARY TRADE-OFF IN DROSOPHILA is the title of a paper written by Burger et al, at UNIL, the university of Lausanne. My neighbours, really, right next to the EPFL. They taught fruit flies to associate food with a certain smell, and then bred them for "intelligence" for about 40 generations. Those elite fruit flies learned faster and retained information better than their less benighted brethren, but they lived on average 15% shorter. Fecundity was also reduced. Another strain was selected for enhanced longevity, and consequently showed a 40% reduction in learning ability as compared to the control.

What does that tell us? Well, I plan to live a long live, so it tells me nothing. Nothing at all. Except that I am doing the right thing in typing blog-entries instead of doing my research.

Head of Drosophila residua. Photo taken by Karl Magnacca.

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