, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 585-594
Date: 30 May 2007

Age-Dependent Stability of Sensorimotor Functions in the Life-Extended Drosophila mutant Methuselah

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Abstract

Methuselah is a Drosophila mutant with a 35% increased lifespan. We examined the robustness of methuselah’s sensorimotor abilities in tethered flight as a function of age in experiments designed to test visuomotor synchronization and phototaxis in simulated flight. A total of 282 flies from different age groups (4 hours to 70 days) and genotypes (mth and w1118) were individually tethered under an infrared laser-sensor system that digitally recorded wing-beat frequency (WBF). We found that mth has a higher average WBF throughout most of its lifespan compared to parental control flies (w1118) and develops flight ability at a younger age. Its WBF at late life, however, is not significantly different than that of its parental control line. We further found that mth entrains during flight to motion of a visual grating significantly better than its parental line. These findings suggest that the mth gene not only delays chronological aging but enhances sensorimotor abilities critical to survival during early and middle, but not late life.

Edited by Yong-Kyu Kim