ARPHA Conference Abstracts : Conference Abstract
Conference Abstract
Average telomere length in cave vs surface Astyanax mexicanus
expand article infoEnrico Lunghi, Helena Bilandžija
‡ Division of Molecular Biology, Institut Ruđer Bošković, Zagreb, Croatia
Open Access


Telomeres are specialized and highly repetitive noncoding DNA structures at the end of linear chromosomes that are essential for maintaining genomic integrity. Each time a cell divides, telomeres are not fully replicated and the resulting cells have shorter telomeres than the progenitor cells. This incomplete replication of telomeres (i.e., shortening) is considered one of the major mechanisms of aging. Furthermore, telomeres are not only shortened by cell divisions, but multiple environmental stressors can also reduce their length (known as somatic redundancy). Studies of telomere length that include a comparison between subterranean and surface species can make an important contribution to understanding the role of these DNA structures in aging and in the ability of individuals to cope with environmental stressors. We conducted a preliminary assessment of the potential divergence of average telomere length in the Mexican tetra Astyanax mexicanus. This fish has surface and subterranean populations (i.e., ecomorphs), each characterized by specific adaptations to its environment. The study of telomere length in conspecific ecomorphs can provide valuable information on the effects of telomeres on the lifespan and longevity of individuals, as well as the role of various environmental stressors on telomere lengths. By adopting a single-species model, it is possible to reduce the potential variability due to the highly divergent evolutionary history or genetics of different species.


Adaptation; aging; senesence; cavefish; subterranean

Presenting author

Enrico Lunghi

Presented at

25th International Conference on Subterranean Biology (Cluj-Napoca, 18-22 July 2022) as poster

Funding program

Tenure Track Pilot Programme of the Croatian Science Foundation and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Grant title

TTP-2018-07-9675 EvoDark

Conflicts of interest