BSc (Hons.) Biology, University of Stirling (2008)
Supervisors: Dr Luc Bussière, Dr Matt Tinsley
Start Date: 1st October 2008
email: Danielle Mackenzie
Ageing and immunity in Drosophila melanogaster.
For the vast majority of organisms ageing is accompanied by the deterioration of a wide range of physiological traits. Immunosenescence – an age-related decline in immune function - often occurs as organisms age, resulting in increased pathogen susceptibility. In elderly humans this is evident in a variety of ways, including the reduction of the number and efficacy of B and T cells, a decline in the quantity and quality of antibodies produced and a decrease in effective antigen presentation. In Drosophila, it has been shown that transcript levels of a number of immune-related genes elevate in older flies; however, little is known about the mechanisms underlying the marked increase in pathogen susceptibility during ageing.
My PhD project has a wide scope; from investigating immune mechanisms in D. melanogaster that display immunosenescence, to determining what variation exists in senescence rates within populations and whether changes in immune parameters correlate with these. I also plan to test whether senescence in the humoural immune response or senescence in the cellular immune response has the greatest impact on pathogen susceptibility in ageing flies, or whether they are equally important. Finally, there is the possibility of attempting to manipulate the rate of biological ageing and assess whether this impacts the rate of immune senescence.