Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Worms under stress

Species respond far more dynamically to disturbances in their environment than we think.

This is the conclusion of Dutch researcher Olga Alda Alvarez following her research into the stress response of nematodes, tiny worms that occur in large numbers in the soil. The outcomes of this study are important for further research into the consequences of climate change and pollution on the stability of the ecosystem.

Alda Alvarez investigated how two species of nematodes responded to pollution of their environment with toxic substances and changes in the ambient temperature. As bacteria eaters, nematodes play an important role in the decomposition process in the soil. They are also easy to study in the laboratory.

The researcher discovered that how nematodes respond to pollution is related to their life cycle. Sexually-reproducing strains are more pollution sensitive than hermaphroditic strains. This in turn has a negative effect on the population growth rate. Alda Alvarez also observed that following the pollution, the toxicity of the nematodes does not increase but is variable.

Gene regulation

Additionally from a genetic viewpoint, nematodes quickly adapt to environmental factors such as the ambient temperature. For example a temperature rise from 16 to 24 degrees Celsius, results in a significant change in the composition of the genome and the interaction between the genes. The gene regulation network is therefore strongly dependent on the ambient temperature.

The outcomes of Alda Alvarez' research are extremely important for further research into the effects of so-called abiotic factors, like pollution and climate change, on ecosystems. This is because these factors have a far less constant effect than has been assumed up to now.

Moreover, Alda Alvarez not only studied the stress response of species at a population level but also at the level of gene expression. Her research method has therefore provided further insights into the mechanisms underlying stress responses. Alda Alvarez believes that future research into the consequences of pollution by toxic substances should take into account the type of toxic substance, the life cycle of the species studied and the species characteristics for which the toxic effect is measured.

Alda Alvarez’s research was funded by NWO.

Kim van den Wijngaard | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>