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Title: An Ecologist’s Guide to Mitochondrial DNA Mutations and Senescence

Longevity plays a key role in the fitness of organisms, so understanding the processes that underlie variance in senescence has long been a focus of ecologists and evolutionary biologists. For decades, the performance and ultimate decline of mitochondria have been implicated in the demise of somatic tissue, but exactly why mitochondrial function declines as individual’s age has remained elusive. A possible source of decline that has been of intense debate is mutations to the mitochondrial DNA. There are two primary sources of such mutations: oxidative damage, which is widely discussed by ecologists interested in aging, and mitochondrial replication error, which is less familiar to most ecologists. The goal of this review is to introduce ecologists and evolutionary biologists to the concept of mitochondrial replication error and to review the current status of research on the relative importance of replication error in senescence. We conclude by detailing some of the gaps in our knowledge that currently make it difficult to deduce the relative importance of replication error in wild populations and encourage organismal biologists to consider this variable both when interpreting their results and as viable measure to include in their studies.

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Award ID(s):
1754152 1736150 1453784
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Integrative and Comparative Biology
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 970-982
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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