The study, investigating the effects of Rhodiola rosea (known as golden root), found that intake of the herbal extract increased the lifespan of fruit fly populations by an average of 24% - however the US-based researchers commented that it was the mechanisms behind the increased lifespan that are the most surprising.
Led by Mahtab Jafari from the University of California - Irvine, the research team found that Rhodiola works in a manner that is completely unrelated to dietary restriction and affects different molecular pathways.
This is significant, said Jafari, because dietary restriction is considered the most robust method of improving lifespan in laboratory animals - with many scientists 'scrambling' to identify compounds that can mimic the effects of dietary restriction.
"We found that Rhodiola actually increases lifespan on top of that of dietary restriction," Jafari said.
"It demonstrates that Rhodiola can act even in individuals who are already long-lived and healthy," he commented. "This is quite unlike resveratrol, which appears to only act in overfed or unhealthy individuals."