Influence of two methods of dietary restriction on life history features and aging of the cricket Acheta domesticus
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Studying aging is constrained using vertebrates by their longevity, size, ethical restrictions, and expense. The key insect model, Drosophila melanogaster, is holometabolous. Larvae feed on yeast in moist media and adults sponge food. Most aging studies are restricted to adults. Another key model, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, feeds on bacteria in moist media. For either invertebrate refreshing test materials, preventing degradation and obtaining accurate dosing are difficult even with synthetic media. The cricket Acheta domesticus has a short lifespan (∼120 days at 30°C) and is omnivorous. Age-matched cohorts are easily obtained from eggs. The life cycle is hemimetabolous and nymphs eat the same foods as adults. Growth is easily monitored, gender can be differentiated before maturity, and maturation is indicated by wings and mature genitalia. Crickets can be reared in large numbers at low cost. Test materials can be mixed into food and ingestion rates or mass budgets easily assessed. Here, we validate the cricket as a model of aging by testing two fundamental methods of restricting food intake: time-restricted access to food and dietary dilution. Growth, maturation, survivorship, and longevity varied with treatments and genders. Intermittent feeding (which is ineffective in flies) significantly extended longevity of crickets. Dietary dilution also extended longevity via remarkable prolongation of the juvenile period.