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Research: Living Longer

A Brief History of the Future  makes the following speculation:

In 2224 the continued research into animal symbionts discovered a bat hosted species which doubled the life span of the bats. Initial scepticism was overcome when the symbiont was tested and proven to have the effect in short-living species such as mice and rats.

My research into this led to increasingly complex scientific papers, which were not very useful to me, but it showed that symbiosis is critical thing for some animals, plants and bacteria today.

A section of a root nodule cell showing symbiosomes enclosing bacteroids

Symbiosis is any type of a close and long-term biological interaction between two different biological organisms, be it mutualistic, commensalistic, or parasitic. The organisms, each termed a symbiont, may be of the same or of different species…

Symbiotic bacteria are able to live in or on plant or animal tissue. In digestive systems, symbiotic bacteria help break down foods that contain fiber. They also help produce vitamins. Symbiotic bacteria can live near hydrothermal vents. They usually have a mutual relationship with other bacteria. Some live in tube worms. (Wikipedia)

I couldn’t find any reference to symbiotic bacteria prolonging life, but since they are still being studied it is not beyond the bounds of probability that such an effect may be found. This leads to a more important question: If there was a way to extend your life, would you take it?

There are lots of accompanying questions, like How healthy would I be? No one wants to live longer in decrepitude or suffering. Would this affect my status in the community? Would the government want to pay out pensions to an increasingly long-lived population?

So what do you think? Live longer or not? And if ‘yes’, how long?

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at