Species-to-species mutations give hints about ageing

According to a study, how long animals live is connected to how quickly their genetic code mutates.

Mammals, from tigers to humans, have nearly the same amount of mutations by the time they die of old age, according to researchers.

Short-lived creatures, on the other hand, tend to deplete their quota more quickly, according to a study of 16 species.

It explains why humans age, according to the experts, and offers light on one of cancer’s most mystifying mysteries.

The findings of researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute were described as “staggering” and “thought-provoking” by experts.

Those mutations have long been recognised to cause cancer, but whether they play a role in ageing has been a point of contention for decades. Sanger Institute researchers claim to have produced “the first experimental evidence” that they are.

They looked at how quickly mutations happen in species with varying life spans. A cat, a black and white colobus, a dog, a ferret, a giraffe, a horse, a human, a lion, a mouse, a naked mole rat, a rabbit, a rat, a ring-tailed lemur, and a tiger’s DNA were examined.

The study, which was published in the journal Nature, revealed that mice undergo roughly 800 mutations per year during their brief lifespan of little under four years.

The longer an animal lives, the fewer mutations it accumulates each year.

Dogs have 249 annual mutations, lions have 160, and giraffes have 99. Humans had an average age of 47.

The researchers want to see if this trend applies to all living things or simply mammals. They want to include fish in the study, including a Greenland shark, which may live for over 400 years and is the world’s longest-living vertebrate.