The smell of food can affect the lifespan of flies and even partially reverse the life-prolonging effects of dietary restriction, scientists report this week in Science. These findings suggest the beneficial effects of caloric cutbacks on lifespan may not only depend on the decreased presence of food, but also on the decreased perception of it."This work provides an important first step into understanding how neural circuits may regulate lifespan in the fly," coauthor Scott Pletcher at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston told The Scientist.In a 2002 study comparing whole-genome expression patterns of long-lived diet-restricted Drosophila and fully fed flies, Pletcher and his colleagues found that both availability of food and age strongly affected genes encoding proteins that bound to aroma compounds or odorants, suggesting a link between smelling food and lifespan.To investigate whether smelling food-related odors could affect fly longevity, the researchers measured Drosophila lifespans in...

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