Resistance to genotoxic stresses in arctica islandica, the longest living noncolonial animal: Is extreme longevity associated with a multistress resistance phenotype?

Zoltan Ungvari, Danuta Sosnowska, Jeffrey B. Mason, Heike Gruber, Star W. Lee, Tonia S. Schwartz, Marishka K. Brown, Nadia J. Storm, Kristen Fortney, Jessica Sowa, Alexandra B. Byrne, Tino Kurz, Erik Levy, William E. Sonntag, Steven N. Austad, Anna Csiszar, Iain Ridgway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Bivalve molluscs are newly discovered models of successful aging. Here, we test the hypothesis that extremely long-lived bivalves are not uniquely resistant to oxidative stressors (eg, tert-butyl hydroperoxide, as demonstrated in previous studies) but exhibit a multistress resistance phenotype. We contrasted resistance (in terms of organismal mortality) to genotoxic stresses (including topoisomerase inhibitors, agents that cross-link DNA or impair genomic integrity through DNA alkylation or methylation) and to mitochondrial oxidative stressors in three bivalve mollusc species with dramatically differing life spans: Arctica islandica (ocean quahog), Mercenaria mercenaria (northern quahog), and the Atlantic bay scallop, Argopecten irradians irradians (maximum species life spans: >500, >100, and ∼2 years, respectively). With all stressors, the short-lived A i irradians were significantly less resistant than the two longer lived species. Arctica islandica were consistently more resistant than M mercenaria to mortality induced by oxidative stressors as well as DNA methylating agent nitrogen mustard and the DNA alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate. The same trend was not observed for genotoxic agents that act through cross-linking DNA. In contrast, M mercenaria tended to be more resistant to epirubicin and genotoxic stressors, which cause DNA damage by inhibiting topoisomerases. To our knowledge, this is the first study comparing resistance to genotoxic stressors in bivalve mollusc species with disparate longevities. In line with previous studies of comparative stress resistance and longevity, our data extends, at least in part, the evidence for the hypothesis that an association exists between longevity and a general resistance to multiplex stressors, not solely oxidative stress. This work also provides justification for further investigation into the interspecies differences in stress response signatures induced by a diverse array of stressors in short-lived and long-lived bivalves, including pharmacological agents that elicit endoplasmic reticulum stress and cellular stress caused by activation of innate immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-529
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Arctica islandica
  • Bivalves
  • Comparative biology
  • Endoplasmic reticulum stress
  • Longevity
  • Oxidation
  • Stress resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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