Scientists use goggles to investigate a giant worm’s heart
Scientists have used a special type of goggles to see inside a giant nematode worm’s organs to determine whether it has a heart.
The study is one of several that have been published this year to try to understand the workings of the heart of a nematod that lives in the heart wall of a worm.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a worm that’s alive that we can actually see in the head, and it’s amazing,” says co-author David Prentice, an entomologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The nematoid, named Ctenophora, lives in a tiny, dark hole in the worm’s brain called a septa.
To understand the heart, Prentice and his colleagues had to create an artificial heart, based on the structure of a living heart.
It is about the size of a small housefly.
They implanted a microchip in the nematodes heart.
“When we started measuring, the heart was so big, we couldn’t see the tiny tiny heart,” says Prentice.
The heart was then moved to a microscope.
They used a specialized microscope, called a confocal microscope, to examine the inside of the nematiemoid’s heart.
To create a better understanding of the worms heart, the team used a specially modified microscope, the “giro,” that is more sensitive than an ordinary microscope.
The scientists could see tiny, tiny cracks, called cavities, in the material of the cavities that allowed them to see into the worm heart.
These cavities were similar to cavities found in a normal heart, says Prentices team member David Zahn.
This allowed them, in essence, to see how the heart is functioning.
“They’re essentially the heart valves,” says Zahn, who has been studying nematodermal heart cells for the past 20 years.
“You see the cavity where the heart cells are, and you can see what’s going on inside of them.”
The heart is also surrounded by a network of veins that supply blood to the heart.
Prentice says the team has been using the “supergene” technique to look at the heart in worms for the last 10 years.
The researchers have used the same “super gene” technique in other research projects.
“The super gene is like a way of measuring the flow of nutrients from the heart,” he says.
“What you see in a worm’s body is a little bit like a little water leak, and the amount of water leaking out is about what you can get out of the blood of a human.”
Prentice explains that if the worm is exposed to nutrients it’s going to leak out, but the worms internal system doesn’t have enough blood supply to keep the worms blood pressure constant.
So the worm must take a huge amount of blood to get enough oxygen, and when that leak is blocked the worm dies.
The worms heart can also be seen through a microscope using a special device called a “gravimeter,” which measures blood flow through the worm, and uses a high resolution camera to show what happens in the worms organ when the worm gets oxygen.
“We can see a little piece of the worm and see how much blood it takes to fill it up, but it’s still a tiny little piece,” says Dr. David Zann, the lead author of the new study.
“So we can’t see exactly how much the worm has, but we can see that it’s really small.”
The worms organs can also appear to be a little larger than they actually are.
“These little worm organs are very, very small,” says team member Mark Auerbach.
“I think it’s the same reason you can’t really see a human kidney or a human heart,” Auerbens colleague.
The team was able to show that the worms organs could grow in size even in an animal.
Prentices and his team hope to use the technique to investigate how the nematicod has a brain, and also how it uses these organs to move around the worm.
The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “If you look at how the worms body functions, you’ll see that they’re really, really small,” Prentice said.
“And that’s because the worms are not able to have a brain.
They are only able to move through the worms own blood.”
The team also found that the nematinocysts heart is not connected to any nerves.
The worm heart is connected to its nematocysts muscle, which is a sort of flexible muscle that has been genetically engineered to allow it to move and breathe.
When the team injected nematocytes into the worms brains and showed the animals could move and hear, they noticed that the muscles around the worms hearts were changing.
The muscles of the animals hearts, as they moved, were being stretched.
“Now you can tell that these muscles are doing their job,” says David