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Keywords:

  • lifespan;
  • Nothobranchius furzeri;
  • genetic linkage map;
  • QTL mapping;
  • synteny

Summary

The African annual fish Nothobranchius furzeri emerged as a new model for age research over recent years. Nothobranchius furzeri show an exceptionally short lifespan, age-dependent cognitive/behavioral decline, expression of age-related biomarkers, and susceptibility to lifespan manipulation. In addition, laboratory strains differ largely in lifespan. Here, we set out to study the genetics of lifespan determination. We crossed a short- to a long-lived strain, recorded lifespan, and established polymorphic markers. On the basis of genotypes of 411 marker loci in 404 F2 progeny, we built a genetic map comprising 355 markers at an average spacing of 5.5 cM, 22 linkage groups (LGs) and 1965 cM. By combining marker data with lifespan values, we identified one genome-wide highly significant quantitative trait locus (QTL) on LG 9 (P < 0.01), which explained 11.3% of the F2 lifespan variance, and three suggestive QTLs on LG 11, 14, and 17. We characterized the highly significant QTL by synteny analysis, because a genome sequence of N. furzeri was not available. We located the syntenic region on medaka chromosome 5, identified candidate genes, and performed fine mapping, resulting in a c. 40% reduction of the initial 95% confidence interval. We show both that lifespan determination in N. furzeri is polygenic, and that candidate gene detection is easily feasible by cross-species analysis. Our work provides first results on the way to identify loci controlling lifespan in N. furzeri and illustrates the potential of this vertebrate species as a genetic model for age research.