Étudiant-chercheur étoile March 2013

Daniel Munro

PhD student in Biology
Université du Québec à Rimouski

Award-winning publication: The extreme longevity of Arctica islandica is associated with increased peroxidation resistance in mitochondrial membranes

Published in: Aging Cell 11(5), 845-855


"My study clearly establishes a strong correlation between longevity and the sensitivity to oxidation of the lipids in the mitochondrial membranes of five bivalve mollusc species, including Arctica islandica, which holds the longevity record (507 years) among higher animals (i.e. other than bacteria). In fact, the longest living species absorb less highly polyunsaturated fatty acids into the phospholipids in their membranes, becoming less sensitive to mitochondrial oxidation and therefore slowing the senescence process. The project also demonstrates that the mechanism plays a more significant role in mitochondrial membranes than in other cell membranes. The results are based on the hypothesis that the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA mutations chiefly determines the pace of the aging process."

Daniel Munro's research helps to broaden the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of aging and answer the existential question of why we age. By defining the fine metabolic adjustments made through natural selection to increase the longevity of a species, Munro more realistically describes what could be expected in humans in terms of interventions, possibly putting an end to public debates tending towards fiction. More concretely, a clearer understanding of the nature of fundamental aging will make it possible to more easily determine the underlying mechanisms of aging pathologies such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and better target research objectives in the field.