Glorantha Digest: Why Brithini are like worms

Why Brithini are like worms

Date: Tue 28 May 1996 - 07:39:20 EEST

From the Science Times, May 21, 1996:
A Worm's Life: Right Mutation Makes it Long But Very Dull

Mutant worms that live five times as long as their normal counterparts are
yielding clues to the genetic control of life span -- and lending credence
to the idea that one way to live longer might be to live less.

"These animals are as close to immortality as worms can get," said Dr.
Siegfried Hekimi, the biologist who bred the long-lived strains at McGill
University in Montreal. But, he added, the worms pay a price for their
longevity: "They are very lethargic. They're terrible. They just lie there.
They are not happy." Even as the lives of worms go, these are dull. In the
longest-lived strains of all, Dr. Hekimi said, the males probably do not
even have enough energy to mate.

The key both to their sluggishness and their long life is a set of four genes
that Dr. Hekimi and his co-author, Dr. Bernard Lakowski, also from McGill,
have named "clock genes." Mutant forms of those genes in various combinations
slow down "everything that has a time component in worms," Dr. Hekimi said,
including cell division, eating, defecating, embryo development and even the
speed of swimming. Those genes also slow the aging process; the fivefold
increase in longevity among Dr. Hekimi's mutants is the greatest ever
recorded in any species.

. . .At this point, researchers doubt that Dr. Hekimi's worms will lead
directly to an antidote for human aging. Given the animal's torpor, Dr.
McCormick said, "It's not the way I'd want to increase my life span."

I think that this suggests some possibilities for the Brithini -- including
slowness in action. Maybe their incredibly tough soldiers should move
last in every round, like a zombie? Jim Chapin


End of Glorantha Digest V2 #600

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