Rotifers as experimental tools for investigating aging. Academic Article uri icon


  • Comparative biogerontology has much to contribute to the study of aging. A broad range of aging rates has evolved to meet environmental challenges, and understanding these adaptations can produce valuable insights into aging. The supra Phylum Lophotrochozoa is particularly understudied and has several groups that have intriguing patterns of aging. Members of the lophotrochozoan phylum Rotifera are particularly useful for aging studies because cohort life tables can be conducted with them easily, and biochemical and genomic tools are available for examining aging mechanisms. This paper reviews a variety of caloric restriction regimens, small molecule inhibitors, and dietary supplements that extend rotifer lifespan, as well as important interactions between caloric restriction and genotype, antioxidant supplements, and TOR and JNK pathways, and the use of RNAi to identify key genes involved in modulating the aging response. Examples of how rapamycin and JNK inhibitor exposure keeps mortality rates low during the reproductive phase of the life cycle are presented, and the ease of conducting life table experiments to screen natural products from red algae for life extending effects is illustrated. Finally, experimental evolution to produce longer-lived rotifer individuals is demonstrated, and future directions to determine the genetic basis of aging are discussed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015