By switching off genes at specific stages in an animal’s lifecycle, researchers have discovered that — despite previous findings to the contrary — life extension can come with no reproductive side effects.

“A lot of evolutionary biologists predicted that you couldn’t lengthen lifespan without inhibiting reproduction,” says Cynthia Kenyon, a biochemistry professor at University of California San Francisco.

But a study published in the October 25 issue of Science, on which Kenyon was senior author, shows that silencing a key gene only in adulthood in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans increased longevity with no effect on reproduction.

“These worms live much longer than normal and they reproduce perfectly normally. They look great, they’re vigorous. These animals are having their cake and eating it too,” says Kenyon. More here.