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Static electricity helps parasitic nematodes to shine on victims

TechScienceStatic electricity helps parasitic nematodes to shine on victims
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Las Vegas Some species of parasitic roundworm can launch themselves into the air to catch fruit flies and other insects. experiments now reveal that leap Steinernema carpocapsai Nematodes take advantage of a secret weapon that makes them particularly effective at searching for victims: static electricity.

flying insects create electric charge When they walk in the air (Sn: 10/31/22, This is the same effect that causes lightning to collect on mist droplets in clouds, and eventually leads to lightning.

Individual insects can accumulate charges of 100 volts or so, biomechanics researcher Victor Ortega Jimenez of the University of Maine in Orono told a March 6 meeting of the American Physical Society. When nematodes jump The charge on a passing insect attracts the parasites Like the lint of a static sweater.

As an insect moves, it builds up charges that create an electric field around it. New research shows that those charges create static electricity that draws the parasitic nematode toward the insect. Arrows show the direction of movement of the nematode; Colors indicate relative speed with blue for slow and red for fast.Victor M. Ortega Jimenez
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To test the effect of the electric charge, Ortega Jimenez and his colleagues mounted dead fruit flies on wires and placed them near a surface covered with nematodes. With no charge on a fly, only the nematode that happened to jump in the direction of the insect, as expected. When the researchers applied an electric charge to a hanging fruit fly, nematodes that initially headed in the wrong direction were also caught in the electric field and pulled onto the fly.

Ortega Jiménez has also studied the effect of electricity on spider webs. When charged insects approach a trap, “the silk is attracted directly to the insects,” he says. This led them to wonder whether leaping nematodes depended on those forces as well.

Researchers have long considered the effects of fluid and air flow on insects and other small organisms. But recently they’ve added electricity to the mix, says Ortega Jimenez. “We need to know how animals are actually dealing with these forces at this scale.”

Some tiny parasitic roundworms, called nematodes, have the uncanny ability to leap high into the air to land on fruit flies and other live prey. It turns out that hunting unknowingly hands nematodes around, new research suggests. Simply by moving, a fly builds up an electric charge. Like static electricity clinging, that charge can draw a nematode inside. In this experiment, the researchers applied an electric charge to a pinned-in-place fly. A particle of the nematode (left) spun in the air and then headed straight for the fly.

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