• Open Access

The extreme longevity of Arctica islandica is associated with increased peroxidation resistance in mitochondrial membranes


Daniel Munro, Department of Biology, Université du Québec à Rimouski, 300, allée des Ursulines, C. P. 3300, succ. A, Rimouski, QC G5L 3A1, Canada. Tel.: 418 723 1986 #1566; fax: 418 724 1849; e-mail: dmunro70@hotmail.com; pierre_blier@uqar.qc.ca


The deleterious reactive carbonyls released upon oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids in biological membranes are believed to foster cellular aging. Comparative studies in mammals and birds have shown that the susceptibility to peroxidation of membrane lipids peroxidation index (PI) is negatively correlated with longevity. Long-living marine molluscs are increasingly studied as longevity models, and the presence of different types of lipids in the membranes of these organisms raises questions on the existence of a PI–longevity relationship. We address this question by comparing the longest living metazoan species, the mud clam Arctica islandica (maximum reported longevity = 507 year) to four other sympatric bivalve molluscs greatly differing in longevity (28, 37, 92, and 106 year). We contrasted the acyl and alkenyl chain composition of phospholipids from the mitochondrial membranes of these species. The analysis was reproduced in parallel for a mix of other cell membranes to investigate whether a different PI–longevity relationship would be found. The mitochondrial membrane PI was found to have an exponential decrease with increasing longevity among species and is significantly lower for A. islandica. The PI of other cell membranes showed a linear decrease with increasing longevity among species and was also significantly lower for A. islandica. These results clearly demonstrate that the PI also decreases with increasing longevity in marine bivalves and that it decreases faster in the mitochondrial membrane than in other membranes in general. Furthermore, the particularly low PI values for A. islandica can partly explain this species’ extreme longevity.