Biomedicine Update: Good News for Fruit Flies


A flower that grows in mountain climates extends the life of fruit flies by 24% say researchers at University of California Irvine. Called Rhodiola rosea or Golden Root, with extracts of it readily available in health food stores, this plant is new evidence that diet plays a significant role in extending lifespan….at least in fruit flies. But obviously the researchers have humans in mind in doing these studies.

The researchers report that Golden Root improved lifespan for both sexes of fruit flies an average of 24%. It also extended the life of older flies and improved their physical performance. It appears the Golden Root extract impacts the mitochondria in cells protecting them from oxidative stress.

The researchers believe that Golden Root may have value in cancer therapy, in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and in stimulating the growth of stem cells.

About Golden Root in health food stores. The researchers analyzed these products and found that they do not contain enough of the compounds that appear to extend the lives of their fruit fly subjects.

What are the compounds and what is actually happening when they are ingested through diet?

The first is Rosavin. It is a glycoside, a compound formed from a simple sugar with an added non-sugar substance added through hydrolysis. It seems to impact the central nervous system. In extract form it is used to treat anxiety and depression.

The second is Salidroside. It is a glucoside which is a glycoside in which the sugar is glucose. It works in similar fashion to Rosavin and is used to treat the same medical conditions. It is said to be the more active of the two ingredients.

Can Golden Root extend human life? Not necessarily. But the correlation between diet and longevity is being further reinforced by numerous studies such as this. Add this to other research we are doing on extending our biological limits and we may soon find that becoming a centenarian will no longer be “that big a  deal” here in the 21st century.



Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...


  • Bill

    Well it’s all maybe maybe.

    • lenrosen4

      No, not really. The evidence is pretty clear that there is a correlation between diet and longevity. It is the impact of diet on proteins and the telomeres that form the end of DNA strands. We don’t necessarily understand what specifically is altered and by what chemistry but we can measure the result regardless and quantify it in laboratory studies on insects and mice.