Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fundy seabird may hold key to aging & cancer

Here's a random bit of Bay of Fundy science news: one of our sea birds, the storm-petrel, may hold the key to why some animals live longer, healthier lives while others survive only a few years

You don't need to be a scientist to observe that there is usually a relationship between body size and life span: elephants live longer humans, humans live longer than mice, etc. So storm-petrels (about the size of a robin) shouldn’t live long, but they actually live about 40 years.

Scientist Mark Haussmann, an assistant professor of biology at Bucknell University (Pensylvania, U.S.A.), has been researching Leach's storm-petrels at the Bay of Fundy's Kent Island. His studies show that storm-petrels have certain DNA characteristics – specifically lengths of the protective telomeres at the tips of DNA – that are associated with species that live longer lives and possibly with how susceptible they are to cancer-causing tumors. His work may have far-reaching implications with our understanding of the factors contributing to aging and cancer growth.

By the way, Kent Island, New Brunswick, was purchased as a sanctuary to save the dwindling eider duck population and a scientific research centre was later established by Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Lots of cool stuff going on at the biological field station at Kent Island (5.4 miles/9 km south of Grand Manan Island).

1 comment:

Barbarapc said...

Terri - haven't been to NB in a couple of years & reading your blog was almost as good as a visit.