News Release

Highly social mammals live longer than solitary species

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

Correlated evolution of social organization and lifespan

image: Correlated evolution of social organization and lifespan view more 

Credit: ZHU et al.

Why is there a 100-fold variation in longevity among mammalian species? A study led by Prof. ZHOU Xuming from the Institute of Zoology (IOZ) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has answered this question from the perspective of sociality.

The researchers used phylogenetic comparative methods to analyze data on various traits from about 1,000 mammalian species, including maximum lifespan, body mass, sociality, lifestyle, ecological factors, life history traits, and phylogenetic relationships.

They found that group-living species live longer than solitary species, and the evolutionary transition rate from the short-lived to the long-lived state is faster in the group-living group than in the solitary group.

These results suggest a correlated evolution between social organization and longevity.

To explore the molecular mechanisms underlying the links between social organization and longevity, the researchers performed a comparative brain transcriptome analysis of about 100 mammals. They identified 31 genes, hormones, and immunity-related pathways shared by both social organization and longevity.

These findings provide insights into the evolution of sociality and longevity and will serve as a molecular basis for future exploration.

The study, published in Nature Communications on Feb. 1, was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Beijing Natural Science Foundation and the Strategic Priority Research Program of CAS.

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