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Fri Oct 4, 2019, 10:38 PM

California's Saltiest Lake Is Chock-Full of Bizarre Roundworms

Life finds a way.
SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

Extremophile expert Amir Sapir checking out some nematodes at Mono Lake. COURTESY JAMES LEE

IF YOU’RE HUMAN, THE WATERS of Mono Lake aren’t for you. Besides being an otherworldly strain of beautiful, the Californian body of water is salty and very basic, with a pH of 10—the equivalent of detergent—in addition to levels of arsenic around six times what is considered safe for drinking. No fish live in the lake, but some animal life finds a way, namely ones that thrive in the toughest conditions (known collectively as extremophiles). Mono Lake’s inhabitants have names that refer to their hostile home: brine shrimp and alkali flies. Now, another hardy species can be added to Mono Lake’s list of aquatic denizens—nematodes, including a new, arsenic-adoring species from the genus Auanema.

The creature, described in the journal Current Biology, is a roundworm with a couple of unique evolutionary traits, chief among them the capacity to survive more than 500 times the amount of arsenic that is fatal for humans. But James Lee, a nematologist formerly of the Sternberg Lab at the California Institute of Technology, which conducted the research, wasn’t all too surprised to find them.

“What’s remarkable about extremophilic nematodes—in fact all extremophilic species—is how much they have to reveal about resilience, and the innovative strategies they use to survive on this planet,” he says.

Mono Lake is as beautiful as it is inhospitable to most creatures. COURTESY JAMES LEE

The newly discovered species of Auanema has a few other evolutionary tricks up its oral cavity. It has three sexes—female, male, and hermaphrodite. Lee says that the male and female Auanema may help preserve genetic diversity in established populations, while the hermaphroditic worms are uniquely suited to trailblazing into new areas, since they reproduce solo. The nematodes are also viviparous, meaning that instead of laying eggs like most nematodes, they have live births.


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Reply California's Saltiest Lake Is Chock-Full of Bizarre Roundworms (Original post)
Judi Lynn Oct 4 OP
NNadir Oct 5 #1
qazplm135 Oct 5 #2

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Oct 5, 2019, 06:15 AM

1. Too bad. We probably need to cut off its sources of water to irrigate golf courses. n/t.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Oct 5, 2019, 05:33 PM

2. where else is Trump going to get his Cabinet members from?


I say we seal it off, make him look somewhere else.

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