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Ectothermic telomeres: It's time they came in from the cold


Olsson, M and Wapstra, E and Friesen, C, Ectothermic telomeres: It's time they came in from the cold, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 373, (1741) pp. 1-16. ISSN 0962-8436 (2018) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 The Authors Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1098/rstb.2016.0449


We review the evolutionary ecology and genetics of telomeres in taxa that cannot elevate their body temperature to a preferred level through metabolism but do so by basking or seeking out a warm environment. This group of organisms contains all living things on earth, apart from birds and mammals. One reason for our interest in this synthetic group is the argument that high, stable body temperature increases the risk of malignant tumours if long, telomerase-restored telomeres make cells 'live forever'. If this holds true, ectotherms should have significantly lower cancer frequencies. We discuss to what degree there is support for this 'anti-cancer' hypothesis in the current literature. Importantly, we suggest that ectothermic taxa, with variation in somatic telomerase expression across tissue and taxa, may hold the key to understanding ongoing selection and evolution of telomerase dynamics in the wild. We further review endotherm-specific effects of growth on telomeres, effects of autotomy ('tail dropping') on telomere attrition, and costs of maintaining sexual displays measured in telomere attrition. Finally, we cover plant ectotherm telomeres and life histories in a separate 'mini review'.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:telomeres, ageing, sexual selection, life history, reptiles, ecology, evolution, genetics, physiology
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Ecological physiology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Wapstra, E (Professor Erik Wapstra)
ID Code:128900
Year Published:2018
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (FT110100597)
Web of Science® Times Cited:51
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2018-10-23
Last Modified:2019-03-05
Downloads:120 View Download Statistics

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