Dissolved Humic Substances Facilitate Fish Life in Extreme Aquatic Environments and Have the Potential to Extend the Lifespan of Caenorhabditis Elegans

  • Christian E. W. Steinberg Humboldt University at Berlin, Germany
  • Nadine Saul Humboldt University at Berlin, Germany
  • Kerstin Pietsch Humboldt University at Berlin, Germany
  • Thomas Meinelt Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Department of Inland Fisheries, Berlin, Germany
  • Stefanie Rienau Humboldt University at Berlin, Germany
  • Ralph Menzel Humboldt University at Berlin, Germany
Keywords: natural organic matter, humic substances, lifespan extension, ion regulation, transcriptional control


Dissolved humic substances (HSs) are taken up by organisms and interact on various molecular and biochemical levels. With two examples, we show that HSs facilitate fish life in low pH and low calcium waters and promote longevity by mild chemical stress. We re-visit recent papers on fish adaptation in the Amazonian Rio Negro and re-interpret the results on the basis of the recent finding of gene control in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. In the nematode, several genes are up-regulated. This may also account for the maintenance of fish life in the Rio Negro. Exposure to HSs exerts mild chemical stress on the exposed organisms and deprives them of energy; however, the nematode C. elegans actively looks for such environments. With life-table and DNA gene filter studies we show that HSs may cause longevity and multiple stress resistance. Furthermore, we propose likely structures of the HSs responsible for these effects.

Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d10010828