Aging features of the migratory locust at physiological and transcriptional levels
Background Non-Drosophila insects provide diverse aging types and important complementary systems for studies of aging biology. However, little attention has been paid to the special roles of non-Drosophila insects in aging research. Here, the aging-related features of the migratory locust, Locusta migratoria, were determined at the physiological, cellular, and transcriptional levels. Results In physiological assessments, the flight performance and sperm state of locusts displayed clear aging-related decline in male adults. At the cellular level, the incidence of mitochondrial abnormalities significantly increased in aged flight muscle, and apoptotic signals and nuclear abnormalities were enhanced in aged fat body but not in brain. Furthermore, organ-level transcriptional analyses demonstrated locusts have similar aging-related genes with model species and the unique organ-specific aging features. Different from those of Drosophila and mammals, the organ-specific aging features of locusts were characterized by intensive expression changes in flight muscle and fat body and little transcriptional and physiological changes in brain. Upregulation of genes involved in autophagy in flight muscle and detoxification in fat body suggested remarkable damage accumulation in old locusts. Some well-known aging genes and locust aging-related genes (i.e., IAP1, PGRP-SA, and LIPT1), whose roles in aging regulation were rarely reported, were demonstrated to affect lifespan, metabolism, and flight ability of locusts after RNAi. Conclusion This study revealed multi-level aging signatures of locust, thus laying a foundation for further investigation of aging mechanisms in this famous insect in the future.