GLOWING ANIMALS: Pictures of Beasts Shining for Science

GLOWING ANIMALS: Pictures of Beasts Shining for Science
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Nematode Worm


How does it glow?


Green fluorescent protein, introduced into its DNA (2005)

What can we learn?

In 2005 University of Utah biologists wanted to study worm rhythm. They isolated a gene they believed to control swallowing, egg laying, and pooping.

To test their hypothesis, the team tagged the gene with green fluorescent protein in a worm. Sure enough, the throat, intestines, and gonads of the animal all glowed green (pictured at right).

To double-check, the team disabled the gene in another worm. That gave them a worm that could not swallow (left), which died at a small size because it could not eat.

The experiment may sound esoteric, but humans have rhythmic activities--swallowing, ovulating, giving birth, defecating--controlled by a similar gene, so the glowing worm could lead to solutions for a variety of ailments.

—Photograph courtesy Ken Norman, University of Utah
 
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