X-Message-Number: 14181
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 20:43:31 -0400
From: Jan Coetzee <>
Subject: The secret to a long life

Size of Bird Genome Linked to Longevity

LONDON (Reuters) - The secret to a long life, in birds at least, is in
the size of their genome,
Scottish scientists said Wednesday.

Birds live much longer than mammals and birds of the same size have very
different sized
genomes. Researchers at Glasgow University have discovered that birds
with the biggest
genomes, the amount of DNA in their cells, tend to live the longest.

``Across the animal kingdom there is a huge variation in the amount of
DNA different organisms
have. People have long been interested in trying to see if they can link
that to any feature in the
organism,'' Professor Pat Monaghan told Reuters.

``Even though birds tend to have relatively small amounts of DNA, the
birds which have a lot for
their body size live a long time, so birds with the biggest genomes live
the longest,'' she added.

Monaghan and her colleague Neil Metcalfe compared the size of the
genomes and longevity of 67
bird species. The research is published in the latest issue of the
journal Trends in Genetics.

``We were surprised that there was such a good relationship with
lifespan, or potential
longevity,'' she said, though it was not possible to tell if the finding
holds true for other animals.

A team of international scientists announced last month that they had
mapped 97 percent of the
human genome, which is expected to pave the way for breakthroughs in
treating and preventing

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