Is Deinococcus radiodurans the key to immortality?

As I rapidly leave middle-age and note the ever increasing loss of elasticity of the skin on the back of my hands I become acutely aware of my DNA’s inability to perfectly replicate.  Enter Deinococcus radiodurans – a polyextremophile bacterium, one of the most radioresistant bacteria known and which can also survive cold, dehydration, vacuum and acid.  Deinococcus radiodurans’ ability to survive high doses of radiation is due to it having multiple copies of its genome as well as a rapid DNA repair mechanism – I could do with some of that!!  D. radiodurans usually repairs breaks in its chromosomes within 12-24 hours.  Although this bacterium will not help much with my telomere-shortening problem, it seems that the contribution of telomere length to lifespan in humans is currently a controversial issue.  However, if this issue does get resolved and we find that we could do with increasing telomere length with increasing age, then we need to go take a look at Leach’s Storm-petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) to help us with that particular problem 🙂

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