Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

DNA methylation predicts age and provides insight into exceptional longevity of bats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gerald S. Wilkinson, Danielle M. Adams, Amin Haghani, Ake T. Lu, Joseph Zoller, Charles E. Breeze, Bryan D. Arnold, Hope C. Ball, Gerald G. Carter, Lisa Noelle Cooper, Dina K. N. Dechmann, Paolo Devanna, Nicolas J. Fasel, Alexander V. Galazyuk, Linus Günther, Edward Hurme, Gareth Jones, Mirjam Knörnschild, Ella Z. Lattenkamp, Caesar Z. Li & 14 more Frieder Mayer, Josephine A. Reinhardt, Rodrigo A. Medellin, Martina Nagy, Brian Pope, Megan L. Power, Roger D. Ransome, Emma C. Teeling, Sonja C. Vernes, Daniel Zamora-Mejías, Joshua Zhang, Paul A. Faure, Lucas J. Greville, Steve Horvath

School/Research organisations


Exceptionally long-lived species, including many bats, rarely show overt signs of aging, making it difficult to determine why species differ in lifespan. Here, we use DNA methylation (DNAm) profiles from 712 known-age bats, representing 26 species, to identify epigenetic changes associated with age and longevity. We demonstrate that DNAm accurately predicts chronological age. Across species, longevity is negatively associated with the rate of DNAm change at age-associated sites. Furthermore, analysis of several bat genomes reveals that hypermethylated age- and longevity-associated sites are disproportionately located in promoter regions of key transcription factors (TF) and enriched for histone and chromatin features associated with transcriptional regulation. Predicted TF binding site motifs and enrichment analyses indicate that age-related methylation change is influenced by developmental processes, while longevity-related DNAm change is associated with innate immunity or tumorigenesis genes, suggesting that bat longevity results from augmented immune response and cancer suppression.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1615
Number of pages13
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2021

    Research areas

  • Ageing, Epigenomics, Methylation analysis

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Towards complete and error-free genome assemblies of all vertebrate species

    Vertebrate Genome Project, Rhie, A., McCarthy, S. A., Fedrigo, O., Damas, J., Formenti, G., Koren, S., Uliano-Silva, M., Chow, W., Fungtammasan, A., Kim, J., Lee, C., Ko, B. J., Chaisson, M., Gedman, G. L., Cantin, L. J., Thibaud-Nissen, F., Haggerty, L., Bista, I., Smith, M. & 30 others, Haase, B., Mountcastle, J., Winkler, S., Paez, S., Howard, J., Vernes, S. C., Lama, T. M., Grutzner, F., Warren, W. C., Balakrishnan, C. N., Burt, D., George, J. M., Biegler, M. T., Iorns, D., Digby, A., Eason, D., Robertson, B., Edwards, T., Wilkinson, M., Turner, G., Meyer, A., Kautt, A. F., Franchini, P., Detrich, H. W., Svardal, H., Wagner, M., Naylor, G. J. P., Pippel, M., Malinsky, M. & Mooney, M., 28 Apr 2021, In: Nature. 592, 7856, p. 737-746 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Hearing sensitivity and amplitude coding in bats are differentially shaped by echolocation calls and social calls

    Lattenkamp, E. Z., Nagy, M., Drexl, M., Vernes, S. C., Wiegrebe, L. & Knörnschild, M., 13 Jan 2021, In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 288, 1942, 10 p., 20202600.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Six reference-quality genomes reveal evolution of bat adaptations

    Jebb, D., Huang, Z., Pippel, M., Hughes, G. M., Lavrichenko, K., Devanna, P., Winkler, S., Jermiin, L. S., Skirmuntt, E. C., Katzourakis, A., Burkitt-Gray, L., Ray, D. A., Sullivan, K. A. M., Roscito, J. G., Kirilenko, B. M., Dávalos, L. M., Corthals, A. P., Power, M. L., Jones, G., Ransome, R. D. & 9 others, Dechmann, D. K. N., Locatelli, A. G., Puechmaille, S. J., Fedrigo, O., Jarvis, E. D., Hiller, M., Vernes, S. C., Myers, E. W. & Teeling, E. C., 23 Jul 2020, In: Nature. 583, 7817, p. 578-584 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Nature Communications (Journal)

    Ife Okafor-Yarwood (Reviewer)

    23 Mar 2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Nature Communications (Journal)

    Andy Gardner (Reviewer)

    Feb 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Related by journal

  1. A rotary mechanism for allostery in bacterial hybrid malic enzymes

    Harding, C. J., Cadby, I. T., Moynihan, P. J. & Lovering, A. L., 23 Feb 2021, In: Nature Communications. 12, 12 p., 1228.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Rapid parallel adaptation despite gene flow in silent crickets

    Zhang, X., Rayner, J. G., Blaxter, M. & Bailey, N. W., 4 Jan 2021, In: Nature Communications. 12, 15 p., 50.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Risk variants and polygenic architecture of disruptive behavior disorders in the context of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

    Demontis, D., Walters, R. K., Rajagopal, V. M., Waldman, I. D., Grove, J., Als, T. D., Dalsgaard, S., Ribasas, M., Bybjerg-Grauholm, J., Bækvad-Hansen, M., Werge, T., Nordentoft, M., Mors, O., Mortensen, P. B., (PGC), ADHD. W. G. O. T. P. G. C., Andreassen, O. A., Arranz, M. J., Banaschewski, T., Bau, C., Bellgrove, M. & 56 others, Biederman, J., Brikell, I., Buitelaar, J. K., Burton, C. L., Casas, M., Crosbie, J., Doyle, A. E., Ebstein, R. P., Elia, J., Elizabeth, C. C., Grevet, E., Grizenko, N., Havdahl, A., Hawi, Z., Hebebrand, J., Hervas, A., Hohmann, S., Haavik, J., Joober, R., Kent, L., Kuntsi, J., Langley, K., Larsson, H., Lesch, K-P., Leung, P. W. L., Liao, C., Loo, S. K., Martin, J., Martin, N. G., Medland, S. E., Miranda, A., Mota, N. R., Oades, R. D., Ramos-Quiroga, J. A., Reif, A., Rietschel, M., Roeyers, H., Rohde, L. A., Rothenberger, A., Rovira, P., Sánchez-Mora, C., Schachar, R. J., Sengupta, S., Artigas, M. S., Steinhausen, H-C., Thapar, A., Witt, S. H., Yang, L., Zayats, T., Zhang-James, Y., Cormand, B., Hougaard, D. M., Neale, B. M., Franke, B., Faraone, S. V. & Børglum, A. D., 25 Jan 2021, In: Nature Communications. 12, 1, 12 p., 576 .

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. "Gene accordions" cause genotypic and phenotypic heterogeneity in clonal populations of Staphylococcus aureus

    Belikova, D., Jochim, A., Power, J., Holden, M. T. G. & Heilbronner, S., 14 Jul 2020, In: Nature Communications. 11, 15 p., 3526.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

ID: 273341919