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Evolution of lifespan

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Neill


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Present-day evolutionary theory, modern synthesis and evo-devo, appear to explain evolution. There remain however several points of contention. These include: biological time, direction, macroevolution verses microevolution, ageing and the extent of internal as opposed to external mediation. A new theoretical model for the control of biological time in vertebrates/bilaterians is introduced. Rather than biological time being controlled solely by a molecular cascade domino effect, it is suggested there is also an intracellular oscillatory clock. This clock (life's timekeeper) is synchronised across all cells in an organism and runs at a constant frequency throughout life. Slower frequencies extend lifespan, increase body/brain size and advance behaviour. They also create a time void which could aid additional evolutionary change. Faster frequencies shorten lifespan, reduce body/brain size and diminish behaviour. They are therefore less likely to mediate evolution in vertebrates/mammals. It is concluded that in vertebrates, especially mammals, there is a direction in evolution towards longer lifespan/advanced behaviour. Lifespan extension could equate with macroevolution and subsequent modifications with microevolution.As life's timekeeper controls the rate of ageing it constitutes a new genetic theory of ageing. Finally, as lifespan extension is internally mediated, this suggests a major role for internal mediation in evolution. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Neill D

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Theoretical Biology

Year: 2014

Volume: 358

Pages: 232-245

Print publication date: 07/10/2014

Online publication date: 30/06/2014

Acceptance date: 10/06/2014

ISSN (print): 0022-5193

ISSN (electronic): 1095-8541



DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2014.06.014