The Devil Worm Is So Metal

Demon, Fictional character, Cg artwork, Illustration, Supernatural creature, Fiction, Art,

Prof. John Bracht, American University/Creative Commons

  • Researchers at American University have mapped the genome[1] of the subterranean devil worm.
  • Devil worms survive in extreme conditions with adaptations like 70 or more copies of a heat-protective gene.
  • It’s common for genes to copy themselves[2], but 70 copies is an evolutionary feature, not a bug.

    Rejoice, for the devil worm has been genetically mapped[3]. Scientists have only known about the extremophile nematode since 2008 because it lives in such far underground and lifeless-seeming places. Its genome shows many adaptations designed to cope with the high heat where it lives.

    The devil worm is nicknamed from its scientific name, Halicephalobus mephisto, after the character of legend who emerges from hell to bargain for Faust’s soul. “Now with the flames of ever-burning fire I’ll wing myself,” Mephistophilis says in Christopher Marlowe’s dramatization.

    The real mephisto nematode wings itself with fire, too: Scientists found that it has duplicated a gene that repairs fire damage until it has 70 copies of the gene. It has multiple copies of a second protective gene, leading scientists to speculate that the microscopic animal has cloaked itself in armor to survive conditions in its environs. “It has no choice but to adapt or die,” one researcher said in the press release[4].

    The devil worm is the first genetically mapped subterranean creature, which gives researchers hope that studying other organisms will yield similarly unusual and inspiring results. Much of cutting-edge science studies living things and uses their mechanisms and adaptations to help design better, stronger, more environmentally friendly, and otherwise advantageous new materials and machines.

    The truth is stranger than fiction, and the devil worm is definitely stranger than its diabolical namesake. Understanding how microanimals like the devil worm live in extreme climates could lead to discoveries in how to protect above-ground wildlife from climate change or how to better insulate machinery to prevent heat waste. We just don’t know until we explore the genetic information and see what’s there.

    Not only is the devil worm the first subterranean organism to have its genome mapped—it was the first creature of its kind[5] to be found at all. Scientists didn’t believe living things could survive so far beneath the Earth’s surface, but this is far from the first time they were wildly wrong about life’s capacity to survive. For millennia, natural philosophers (the antique name for scientists) believed nothing could live below a certain point in the ocean because it was so cold and under such crushing pressure.

    “From the time of Pliny until the end of the 19th century, people believed the deep sea was a lifeless wasteland,” scientist Anne Marie Helmenstine wrote[6]. Their imagination for what was possible had to expand, and even then, scientists still believed there wasn’t life in the deeper parts of the deep sea. How could life exist where there was never any possibility of sunlight at all? They were wrong again[7].

    Under the solid ground is a similarly inhospitable climate for life, and organisms that thrive in the deep sea have a lot in common with the devil worm. One major factor that many extremophiles share is their ability to tolerate or even feed off of methane instead of oxygen or carbon dioxide, like methanotrophs[8], which are bacteria that eat methane[9] and release oxygen as a byproduct. In fact, the devil worm team reports[10] that the existence of methanotrophs and other similar organisms is likely why nematodes have adapted to live there: a plentiful food source in an environment they’ve now grown to tolerate.

    This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

    References

    1. ^ mapped the genome (www.eurekalert.org)
    2. ^ genes to copy themselves (www.popularmechanics.com)
    3. ^ has been genetically mapped (www.eurekalert.org)
    4. ^ press release (www.eurekalert.org)
    5. ^ first creature of its kind (www.wired.com)
    6. ^ Anne Marie Helmenstine wrote (www.thoughtco.com)
    7. ^ They were wrong again (www.pbs.org)
    8. ^ methanotrophs (www.sciencedaily.com)
    9. ^ methane (www.popularmechanics.com)
    10. ^ the devil worm team reports (go.redirectingat.com)

    Source URL: Read More
    The public content above was dynamically discovered – by graded relevancy to this site’s keyword domain name. Such discovery was by systematic attempts to filter for “Creative Commons“ re-use licensing and/or by Press Release distributions. “Source URL” states the content’s owner and/or publisher. When possible, this site references the content above to generate its value-add, the dynamic sentimental analysis below, which allows us to research global sentiments across a multitude of topics related to this site’s specific keyword domain name. Additionally, when possible, this site references the content above to provide on-demand (multilingual) translations and/or to power its “Read Article to Me” feature, which reads the content aloud to visitors. Where applicable, this site also auto-generates a “References” section, which appends the content above by listing all mentioned links. Views expressed in the content above are solely those of the author(s). We do not endorse, offer to sell, promote, recommend, or, otherwise, make any statement about the content above. We reference the content above for your “reading” entertainment purposes only. Review “DMCA & Terms”, at the bottom of this site, for terms of your access and use as well as for applicable DMCA take-down request.

    Acquire this Domain
    You can acquire this site’s domain name! We have nurtured its online marketing value by systematically curating this site by the domain’s relevant keywords. Explore our content network – you can advertise on each or rent vs. buy the domain. [email protected] | Skype: TLDtraders | +1 (475) BUY-NAME (289 – 6263). Thousands search by this site’s exact keyword domain name! Most are sent here because search engines often love the keyword. This domain can be your 24/7 lead generator! If you own it, you could capture a large amount of online traffic for your niche. Stop wasting money on ads. Instead, buy this domain to gain a long-term marketing asset. If you can’t afford to buy then you can rent the domain.

    About Us
    We are Internet Investors, Developers, and Franchisers – operating a content network of several thousand sites while federating 100+ eCommerce and SaaS startups. With our proprietary “inverted incubation” model, we leverage a portfolio of $100M in valued domains to impact online trends, traffic, and transactions. We use robotic process automation, machine learning, and other proprietary approaches to power our content network. Contact us to learn how we can help you with your online marketing and/or site maintenance.

    Share