Annuaire IPHC

DEPE | Stratégie scientifique » Ecophysiologie Evolutive (EpE) » François Criscuolo

François Criscuolo

Determinants of the diversity of ageing rates : role of mitochondrial and telomere related mechanisms in life history trade-offs.

The main goal of my research is to contribute to a better understanding of the origin of the great diversity of ageing rates that results from evolution, by trying to uncover the mechanisms (i.e. molecular, cellular and physiological) that shape the life-history trade-offs in different environments.

Ageing is a very complex and multi-factorial process that is largely variable, both at the inter-specific and at the inter-individual level. Understanding how the process of ageing shapes individual variability in performance and lifespan remains a corner-stone question in evolutionary biology. Albeit reductionist, our approach consists in studying mainly two mechanisms involved in cell ageing (i.e. telomere erosion and mitochondrial functioning) and to determine how they varies among species with different lifespan (comparative approach), or among individuals from the same species but which faced different life trajectories (experimental approach). Our study species are numerous, from captive zebra finches and rodents to wild tits or penguins

Research themes
• Evolutionary biology
• Eco-physiology
• Bio-energetic
• Molecular biology

« Word cloud made from the keys words from my most cited papers »
« Word cloud made from the keys words from my most cited papers »

Why pending time and money on these questions ?
Why studying mechanisms of senescence and life history trade-offs in birds ? What is the point of doing fundamental research on a subject that is so far from human medicine, with no link with animal conservation or global changes ? These are the main questions that either non-scientific people or medicine biologists keep asking me. Think about the Evolution Theory from Darwin. It is an absolutely fundamental topic, with no applications either in conservation or in immediate understanding of ecological changes. But, it has change the human society like a revolution in our understanding of human origins, in the mechanisms by which life is changing through ages and with our relation with religion. Darwin has been able to propose his amazing theory because incomplete or partially wrong ideas have accumulated since several decades before he matured them in a global scheme. He was the right person in the right place at the right moment who, because of a particular talent, had brilliantly assemble grains of sand to build up a castle that will stand and will be remembered for ages. I hope to be one of these grains of sand.

Group members
Permanent researcher, Sylvie MASSEMIN, McF, HDR

Engineer, Sandrine ZAHN (in charge of the molecular ageing development), Mathilde ARRIVE (in charge of biochemical measurements)

Master I, Rita FRAGUEIRA - "ageing and life-history cost of chronic inflammation in UCP2-KO mice", June 2014.

François CRISCUOLO Mini CV

Since March 2014 : Head of the DEPE

2010-2014 : Head of the Evolutionary EcoPhysiology team

Since 2008 : CR1 researcher, Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien, Département d’Ecologie, Physiologie et Ethologie, Strasbourg, France.

2006-2008 : Postdoctoral scientist at the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Coparative Medicine, Glasgow University, Glasgow, Scotland, UK.

2003-2006 : Postdoctoral scientist at the Institut Necker, University of Paris V, Paris, France.

2002-2003 : Postdoctoral scientist at the CEPE, University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France.

2001 : PhD thesis at the CEPE, University of Lyon 1, Lyon, France. PhD in Ecophysiology.

Previous group members


“Circadian rhythms as a cause of metabolic and ageing pathology in rodents”, University of Strasbourg, France. Co-supervision with Dr Etienne Challet, INCI-CNRS, Strasbourg, France.

  • Sophie REICHERT

Loss of non-coding sequences that preserve genome integrity (i.e. telomeres) is one of the causes of ageing in eucaryotes. Because telomere loss occurs mainly during growth (progressively at each cell division) and is accelerated by stress (i.e. oxidative stress), it was suggested that individual past histories play a role in ageing rate variability. A big question is how is really related telomere erosion to organism ageing, and then to adult performance level. To answer these questions, Sophie is currently accumulating correlative data on birds both in captivity (Zebra finches) and in the wild (dippers), but also conducting experimental experiments either by modifying growth trajectories or directly telomere dynamics. [Thesis obtained in November 2013, supervisors S. Massemin and F. Criscuolo]

Main collaborators
P. Bize (UNIL), L. Keller & P. Becker (UZH)

  • Antoine STIER

Mitochondria are at the cross-roads between energy production for the cell and unavoidable production of deleterious species (i.e. reactive oxygen species) responsible of oxidative stress, itself implicated in ageing. However, species have evolved mitochondrial adaptations that may help to control ROS production like uncoupling proteins (UCPs), inducing thermogenesis but at the expense of energy production. Using zebra finches treated with an uncoupler, knock-out mice for UCP1, or by comparing populations of great tits or basically avian and mammal mitochondrial functioning, Antoine is testing if uncoupling and/or UCPs are involved in oxidative regulation and how natural populations exposed to cold temperature deal with uncoupling during growth. [Thesis obtained in Novermber 2013, supervisors F. Criscuolo and S. Massemin]

Main collaborators
P. Bize (UNIL), F. Bouillaud (Inst. Cochin), D. Roussel (LEHNA), J. Zoll (UdS)