Worm mothers ‘sacrifice themselves’ by providing milk for their young

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Scientists have discovered that some worm mothers “sacrifice themselves” by giving their babies milk, which destroys their own organs.

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nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegansIt has long been studied by scientists trying to understand more about the aging process, thanks to its simplicity and genetic similarity to humans.

As a result, new findings published in nature communication The discovery of how to slow human aging could have far-reaching implications.


Most one-millimeter-long transparent roundworms have both male and female reproductive organs, and mothers reproduce by fertilizing themselves with a limited stock of self-sperm. When these are gone, within days of sexual maturity, reproduction stops.

Then the insects behave in a way that has puzzled scientists for some time – they produce large amounts of yolk-rich fluid that accumulates in large pools inside their bodies and is destructive in the process. consumes their internal organs.

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They also lay more than their body weight in unfertilized eggs.

Scientists previously assumed that these changes were nonspecific and represented some kind of aging disease stage – but now a purpose has been found for both.

“Once we realized that post-breeding insects were making milk, a lot of things suddenly made sense,” said study first author Dr Carina Kern from University College London’s Institute of Healthy Aging.

“The worms are destroying themselves in the process of transferring nutrients to their offspring. And all those fertilized eggs are filled with milk, so they’re acting like milk bottles to help baby worms transport the milk.” to help feed.”

The scientists suggested that the finding shows a “unique” function in which insects “maximize their evolutionary fitness”.

This type of self-destructive and life-shortening breeding effort is typical of organisms such as Pacific salmon that exhibit suicidal reproduction. New study reveals C. elegans Life span may also be limited by suicidal reproduction.


Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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