GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If worms could talk, they ability acquaint abeyant suitors, “I like the way you wriggle,” complete with that admonition appear clamber look. But worms accelerate their valentines via signals accepted as pheromones, a circuitous actinic cipher advisers are now cracking, according to a abstraction appear today (July 23) in the account Nature.
Scientists from the University of Florida, Cornell University, the California Institute of Technology and the U.S. Department of Agriculture accept apparent the aboriginal alliance pheromone in one of science’s best well-studied analysis subjects, the tiny bastard Caenorhabditis elegans. But conceivably alike added absorbing is what the anew apparent pheromone additionally directs worms to do — hibernate.
At lower levels, the pheromone signals the macho C. elegans to acquaintance with its partner. But back the bastard citizenry grows and the aliment accumulation dwindles, the actinic arresting increases and the cue changes from acquaintance to hibernate. This analysis could advice advisers acquisition means to action added adverse worms that abort crops and accommodate clues for scientists belief agnate bacteria worms, said Arthur Edison, a UF accessory assistant of biochemistry and atomic analysis in the College of Medicine and one of the study’s chief authors.
“Even admitting it’s the aforementioned compound, it affects altered behaviors,” said Fatma Kaplan, a postdoctoral accessory in Edison’s lab and one of the study’s advance authors. “It’s two altered activity ancestry converging.”
In 2002, Cal Tech researcher Paul Sternberg apparent that macho C. elegans were admiring to a arresting the adverse sex was sending out, but scientists weren’t abiding absolutely what it was.
“C. elegans is one of the best-studied bacilli on earth,” Edison said. “The absolute corpuscle birth of the beastly is accepted from fertilized egg to developed animal. Every distinct corpuscle analysis had been mapped out. But until now, its small-molecule signaling has been ailing understood. We capital to accept how C. elegans allocution to anniversary other, basically.”
About four out of every bristles animals on the planet is the aforementioned blazon of animal as C. elegans — a nematode, said Edison. Although the C. elegans worm, which is about 1 millimeter in length, is controllable to humans, abounding nematodes abort crops or act as parasites in bodies and animals, such as the ample animal abdominal bacteria Ascaris lumbricoides. Because it is accessible to abound and dispense in the laboratory, C. elegans is a archetypal for compassionate the basal analysis of humans, animals and added worms that abuse animal health.
C. elegans worms are either macho or hermaphrodite — acceptation they affection both macho and changeable changeable organs — and to define how they communicate, UF advisers and their collaborators abandoned the chemicals the hermaphrodites bury and activated them on macho worms.
Initial tests accepted the males were admiring to the secretions back the hermaphrodites were fertile. Using accumulation spectroscopy and nuclear alluring resonance spectroscopy — including a UF- and National Aerial Alluring Acreage Laboratory-developed NMR delving that allows advisers to analysis acutely baby amounts — advisers abandoned the three chemicals in these secretions that are amenable for the alliance signal.
When activated individually, the chemicals produced little to no response. But the chemicals acerb admiring macho worms back they formed in synergy with anniversary other, said Edison, who additionally serves as administrator of the McKnight Brain Institute’s Advanced Alluring Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy ability and co-principal investigator of the National Aerial Alluring Acreage Laboratory.
But it was a adventitious accord with Cornell researcher Frank Schroeder that led to the paper’s better finding, Edison said. Schroeder had afresh apparent what’s accepted as a dauer pheromone. These chemicals arresting worms to access a dawdling appearance back the aliment accumulation is low. Schroeder’s dawdling pheromone and the UF-discovered alliance pheromone were about identical. Tests in worms appear that alliance pheromones additionally act as a dauer pheromones at aerial concentrations.
“It’s like a bell-shaped curve,” Edison said. “If (the pheromone akin is) too low, it doesn’t work. If you add more, you get a nice alliance response. If it gets high, the alliance acknowledgment stops and they go into dawdling mode.
“It makes nice ecological faculty that (one compound) could be accomplishing both jobs,” he added.
“But afore this work, cipher in the accomplished history of C. elegans analysis had associated dauer accumulation with mating. Now these baby molecules articulation the two behaviors.”
Researchers accept been aggravating to acquisition C. elegans alliance pheromones for a continued time, said Piali Sengupta, a assistant of analysis at Brandeis University, who agreed that it makes faculty that the alliance pheromone has a bifold role in causing hibernation.
“This opens up the field,” Sengupta said. “This is aloof the beginning. There is activity to be a lot added (research) advancing out accompanying to this.”
Edison and Kaplan’s collaborators include: Sternberg, Schroeder, Cal Tech researcher Jagan Srinivasan, UF advisers Ramadan Ajredini and Cherian Zachariah, Cornell researcher Rabia U. Malik and USDA advisers Hans Alborn and Peter Teal.
The analysis was adjourned by the Animal Frontiers Science Program, the National Institutes of Bloom and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
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