Scientists Have Found a New Species of Microscopic Worms Having Three Sexes

by Ernest Thomas
Scientists Have Found a New Species of Microscopic Worm Having Three Sexes

Mother Earth is a nature’s creation that has many mysteries inside. Before this, you might have seen various plants and animals which have bisexual characteristics. But this latest discovery will surprise you. Nematodes are one of the most ordinary creatures on the Earth who live in lakes. But an international team of scientists has found a new type of nematode residing in a most unfriendly environment. These tiny worms live in California’s Mono Lake, which contains three times more salt than ocean water. The lake is popular for inhospitable nature; it consists of excessive amounts of arsenic and salt. Notably, the nematodes sustain massive quantities of arsenic. Although, the new study has added a new member to the Mono Lake family. Before this, scientists were aware of only two animal genes, diving flies and brine shrimp, which reside in the salty lake.

Prof. Paul Sternberg from Caltech and other researchers from the US, Israel, the UK, and Japan have teamed up to conduct the study, including Dr. Amir Sapir from the University of Haifa. The team has found eight creatures that belong to the group of worms called nematodes. From the finding, science knows only three species. Due to their resistance to arsenic, scientists have classified these worms as extremophiles.

One of the newly found creatures seems different. Researchers have named it Auanema sp., which is a new genus having the potential to adapt to Mono lake’s harsh environment. As per the team, this nematode has 500 times more resistance to arsenic than the utmost limit for humans. The most remarkable aspect of Auanema sp. is scientists have discovered it in three sexes, i.e., female, male, and hermaphroditic. Scientists note the newly discovered species include hermaphrodites as a third sex. The number of bisexual creatures seems around the same as the male and female populations. What’s different is, hermaphrodites have the potential to self-reproduce. On the other hand, males and females have to mate sexually for reproduction.

The biologists have discovered that mother worms inclined to give birth to both male and female descendants in the early stages of reproduction. But mother nematodes got older as time passed and started giving birth to hermaphroditic babies. James S. Lee, a co-author of the study, has theorized the reason behind the birth of hermaphrodites babies. As per James, the males and females offspring could assist in maintaining the genetic variation via sexual recombination. On the other hand, the hermaphrodites could diffuse into new surroundings and start producing new community there. Now, scientists aim to put the newly-discovered species in order. Even more, they seek to know how these worms live in such harsh conditions. The international team of biologists has published their findings in the journal Current Biology.

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