Aging of biological systems is a fundamental process controlled by a complex network of molecular pathways. In the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina, a model in which organismal aging can conveniently be analysed, mitochondria play a central role. A wide range of relevant pathways were identified that contribute to the maintenance of a population of functional mitochondria. These pathways act in a hierarchical manner, but all the pathways are limited in capacity. At the end of the life cycle, when the various surveillance pathways are overwhelmed and damage has passed certain thresholds, programmed cell death brings the life of individual P. anserina to an end.

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