A conga line of 80 maggots was caught by electrocuting a bee’s pump

Have you ever wanted to hop on the nearest travel item to cut down on your travel time? Well, scientists have discovered that a microscopic worm can use electric fields to glide over moving organisms — and they caught it on film.

Similar to hitchhiking for humans, this ability allows worms to conserve energy and travel further.

„When you’re so small, the world is a very different place,” says the entomologist and broadcaster Adam HartA person who is not engaged in studies said BBC Science Focus. „Caenorhabditis elegans An incredibly well-studied creature, yet with all that attention we can still discover something new.

1 mm long C. elegans Worms, which are normally found in soil, were found trying to lift themselves out of petri dishes in laboratories at Japan’s Hiroshima University and Hokkaido University. So scientists rubbed pollen on a bumblebee to create an electrical charge and watched the worms jump on board.

Published in the magazine Current Biology, the study found that worms can get on each other’s 'shoulders’ in the same column, and each worm lifts the one below. In this tiny gong array, 80 worms can simultaneously jump into an electric field. As shown in this video, a conga line of 80 worms jumped over a bee’s pump using an electric field.

Pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds create an electric field with pollinating plants that attract the pollen, which becomes electrically charged. But until now, scientists didn’t know if these fields were used between animals — let alone a way for smaller creatures to jump over larger ones.

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„We discovered this through researchers C. elegans „Stuck in the lids of the Petri dishes shows how important the first step in the scientific method, observation, really is,” Hart said.

Scientists have yet to figure out how the worms use the electric field, but they suspect it’s genetic.

Hart added: „This discovery is likely to open up a whole range of studies looking at the use of electric fields for the movement of small organisms, particularly those that need to jump onto a host, hitchhike (called phoresies) or become parasites.”

About our expert:

Adam Hart is an entomologist and professor of science communication at the University of Gloucestershire. Researching and teaching, he is a regular broadcaster for BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. On television, Adam has co-presented a number of documentary series, notably for BBC4 Planet Ant and BBC2 Hive alive.

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