1. Ageing & its life history consequences
Ageing, the process of growing old, progresses at an incredible pace in the annual killifish. Some killifish populations have a median lifespan of only 4 months while others live substantially longer (but still less than a year). Uniquely among vertebrates, this is their natural life history to cope with the transient environment of temporary pools in African savanna. The period of aquatic phase – when killifish need to hatch, mature and reproduce – may last 1–6 months in the wild. For the rest of the year, entire population survives as embryos encased in desiccated mud of the pool bottom, waiting for new rains to come.
As a consequence, Nothobranchius killifish live incredibly short and fast lives. Importantly, their lifespan is condensed rather than preliminary terminated, and they suffer major ageing-related problems such as development of spontaneous tumours, decrease in fecundity and fertility, and other functional declines.
Combing work on wild and imported wild-derived populations of African killifish from Mozambique and established laboratory strains, we use Nothobranchius fishes to understand the biology of ageing, ecology of embryo development including diapausing stages, and life history trade-offs.
Our work mainly includes the turquoise killifish, Nothobranchius furzeri, and other species from Mozambique. Recently, we expanded our interest geographically and started field investigations in Tanzania.
We combine fieldwork and experimental studies and aim at holistic approach to understand annual killifish ecology, physiology, and evolution. In addition, we have included Neotropical annual killifish in our research agenda, aiming to build a comparative framework.
Check out a quick guide to killifish biology, breeding protocol, comprehensive review, book chapter on their ecology and evolution or recent review on N. furzeri natural history. Primary papers can be accessed via killifish-specific tag within publications.