How the bat beats the lifespan rule

August 20, 2013

From the elephant to the mayfly, biologists say there is a general rule about longevity: the bigger the animal, the longer it lives.

But an intriguing exception is the Brandt's bat (Myotis brandtii), a native of temperate areas of Europe and Asia.

The insect-munching mammal tips the scales at five to eight grams—less than two teaspoons of sugar—yet can live for more than 40 years, as long as a dolphin and more than a horse or a cow.

Eager to learn why, an international group of scientists sequenced the bat's , highlighting a network of genes that could explain its exceptional lifespan.

They pinpointed genetic variants that, as expected, give the tiny creature its ability to navigate by sonar and to sense dim and ultraviolet light.

But they also came across "unique" variants that control cell sensitivity to two .

One mutation is linked in humans to a form of and may be protective against diabetes and cancer, previous work has shown.

"Together with adaptations such as hibernation and low reproductive rate, (these) contribute to the exceptional lifespan of the Brandt's bat," the scientists suggest.

The Brandt's bat takes a long time to reach and produces a single pup at a time, which weighs about a seventh of the parent's body mass.

The study appears in the journal Nature Communications.

Explore further: Tiger moths: Mother Nature's fortune tellers

Related Stories

Tiger moths: Mother Nature's fortune tellers

June 3, 2013

When it comes to saving its own hide, the tiger moth can predict the future. A new study by researchers at Wake Forest University shows Bertholdia trigona, a species of tiger moth found in the Arizona desert, can tell if ...

Climate change threatens hotspots of genetic diversity

August 1, 2013

( —Past climates shaped the current hotspots of genetic diversity for the grey long-eared bat, one of the UK's rarest mammals, but future climate change threatens these biodiversity hotspots, according to researchers ...

Hibernation keeps rabies going in bats

June 7, 2011

( -- In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, infectious disease biologist Dylan George from Colorado State University reports that a bat’s hibernation is what keeps ...

New website calls for help from bat detectives

October 3, 2012

Scientists are asking for the public's help to monitor bats across Europe and track changes in our environment by listening to their weirdly wonderful ultrasonic tweets on a new website.

Recommended for you

Genome of American cockroach sequenced for the first time

March 23, 2018

A team of researchers with South China Normal University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has for the first time sequenced the genome of the American cockroach. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, ...

New innovations in cell-free biotechnology

March 23, 2018

A Northwestern University-led team has developed a new way to manufacture proteins outside of a cell that could have important implications in therapeutics and biomaterials.

Intracellular transport in 3-D

March 23, 2018

Ludwig Maximilian University researchers have visualized the complex interplay between protein synthesis, transport and modification.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.