Thursday, January 10, 2019

Perception of naturally dead conspecifics impairs health and longevity through serotonin signaling in Drosophila melanogaster

Perception of naturally dead conspecifics impairs health and longevity through serotonin signaling in Drosophila. Tuhin S Chakraborty, Christi M Gendron, Yang Lyu, Allyson S Munneke, Madeline N DeMarco, Zachary W Hoisington, Scott D Pletcher. bioRxiv 515312, https://doi.org/10.1101/515312

Abstract: Sensory perception modulates health and aging across taxa. Understanding the nature of relevant cues and the mechanisms underlying their action may lead to novel interventions that improve the length and quality of life. In humans, psychological trauma is often associated with the recognition of dead individuals, with chronic exposure leading to persistent mental health issues including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The mechanisms that link mental and physical health, and the degree to which these are shared across species, remain largely unknown. Here we show that the vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has the capability to perceive dead conspecifics in its environment and that this perceptive experience induces both short- and long-term effects on health and longevity. Death perception is mediated by visual and olfactory cues, and remarkably, its effects on aging are eliminated by targeted attenuation of serotonin signaling. Our results suggest a complex perceptive ability in Drosophila that reveals deeply conserved mechanistic links between psychological state and aging, the roots of which might be unearthed using invertebrate model systems.