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Curator’s Choice: Meet a Bdelloid Rotifer

Curator’s Choice: Meet a Bdelloid Rotifer

Steven Burke spies on some astonishing aquatic creatures in a rain puddle. His homemade video even documents the last gasp of a rotifer after it is delicately stained with a blue dye. It is quite touching to see the tiny creature lyse at the end. So long, little fellow! 

Today’s #SoG+CuratorsChoice is a wonderful example of Citizen Science and was chosen by community moderator Rajini Rao because it is fun, informative and original. Often, when we delete “churnalism” (posts regurgitated from online news/blog sites) we are accused of being elitist and excluding posts from non-scientists. This post is evidence that a science enthusiast can make a quality contribution to the Science on Google+ community. Thanks, Steven Burke 🙂

Originally shared by Steven Burke

I found a rain puddle outside that had a a mango laying in it that had fallen from my mango tree. So somebody interested in micro-biology this is a gold mine. Meet a Bdelloid Rotifer – These little multicellular micro organism grow between 0.2 – 0.5um and have a number of extraordinary traits. (Still learning my video software, sorry about the mediocre quality) 

If unfavourable environmental condition is encountered by our little friend here they can enter a sort of hibernation. Even if entering extremely dry conditions. But the amazing thing is, Matthew Meleson (Harvard), has shown that upon waking up they can incorporate the foreign genetic material from what is around them into their own genetic code, this can even patch up ruptured cell membranes. 

Now if thats not amazing enough, it was found that there are no males of this class of rotifer, and they have been breeding asexually by a process called:  parthenogenesis for over 80 million years. The interesting thing is classical thinking predicts that sex is required for diversification, however there are over 340 know species of this class. Challenging the notions of what is required for evolution to continue. Maybe you females won’t need us males for too much longer 🙂 

So during the video I try and show some natural behaviour, with a couple of different DIY lighting techniques I have been trying. Finally, after staining the slide with methylene blue I noticed this guy was not handling it well. I recorded his full death over the next hour and have sped it up – it really is quite amazing. 

Thanks for watching 🙂


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