Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Dying Worms Emit Blue Glow

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Probably the worm’s soul leaving its body.  Ruth Williams reports in The Scientist:

BlueWorm1

In the final hours of a nematode worm’s life, a wave of cell death propagates along the length of its body. But, as if to have one last hurrah, the dying cells put on a bright blue light show, according to a paper published online yesterday (July 23) in PLOS Biology.

“It’s a really neat phenomenon that they’ve uncovered,” said Sean Curran, a professor of biogerontology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study. “And the fact that they’ve looked at the circuitry that controls it and they know the molecular mechanism, I think is fantastic.”

The discovery of this unusual death-related phenomenon came as a result of studies into aging, said University College London’s David Gems. One of the prevailing theories to explain aging in organisms, he said, is that throughout life there is a slow accumulation of damage to cellular components. In mammals, some of that damaged material accumulates in the lysosomes of aging cells as a substance called lipofuscin—“a sort of biological crap,” Gems said.

Gems studies aging in the nematode worm C. elegans, and like his fellow worm researchers, he assumed these tiny critters also accumulated lipofuscin as they aged. Although lipofuscin had never been isolated from C elegans, the assumption was based on the fact that worms develop a fluorescent emission as they age, which fits with the fact that lipofuscin itself emits fluorescence. “Worm biologists said, ooh it looks like lipofuscin, and it became almost taken as a fact,” Gems said.

But Gems became suspicious. For one thing, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 July 2013 at 3:57 pm

Posted in Science

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