Theories of the evolution of senescence state that symmetrically dividing organisms do not senesce. However, this view is challenged by experimental evidence. We measured by immunofluorescence the occurrence and intensity of protein carbonylation in single and symmetrically dividing cells of Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Cells of S. pombe show different levels of carbonylated proteins. Most cells have little damage, a few show a lot, an observation consistent with the gradual accumulation of carbonylation over time. At reproduction, oxidized proteins are shared between the two resulting cells. These results indicate that S. pombe does age, but does so in a different way from other studied species. Damaged cells give rise to damaged cells. The fact that cells with no or few carbonylated proteins constitute the main part of the population can explain why, although age is not reset to zero in one of the cells during division, the pool of young cells remains large enough to prevent the rapid extinction of the population.
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