Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wave of blue fluorescence reveals pathway of death in worms

Date:
July 23, 2013
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
The final biological events in the life of a worm are described in a new article. The paper reveals how death spreads like a wave from cell to cell until the whole organism is deceased.

Typical fluorescence change during death from old age. 0 h, cessation of movement (death). All six images are of the same dying animal. Scale bar, 50 ΅m.
Credit: Coburn C, Allman E, Mahanti P, Benedetto A, Cabreiro F, et al. (2013) Anthranilate Fluorescence Marks a Calcium-Propagated Necrotic Wave That Promotes Organismal Death in C. elegans. PLoS Biol 11(7): e1001613. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001613

The final biological events in the life of a worm are described in a new article, published July 23 in the open access journal PLOS Biology. The paper reveals how death spreads like a wave from cell to cell until the whole organism is deceased.

Related Articles


The deaths of individual cells trigger a chemical chain reaction leading to the breakdown of cell components and a build-up of molecular debris. The molecular mechanisms of this process are reasonably well understood at a cellular level, but far less is known about how death spreads throughout an organism at the end of its life.

In worms, the spread of death can easily be seen under a microscope as a wave of blue fluorescence travelling through the gut of the worm. The new study, led by Professor David Gems from the Institute of Healthy Ageing at UCL, reveals that this fluorescence is caused by a cell death pathway called necrosis, and its spread throughout the organism is dependent on calcium signalling.

"We've identified the chemical pathways of self-destruction that propagate cell death in worms, which we see as this glowing blue fluorescence travelling through the body," explained Professor Gems. "It's like a blue Grim Reaper, tracking death as it spreads throughout the organism until all life is extinguished."

"We found that when we blocked this pathway, we could delay death induced by a stress such as infection, but we couldn't slow death from old age. This suggests that ageing causes death by a number of processes acting in parallel."

The mechanisms involved are similar to those active in mammals, confirming the worm can provide a useful model for understanding cell death, and how to prevent it, in other animals.

The study also links the mechanisms of cell death to the appearance of the blue fluorescence. The source of this fluorescence was previously thought to be a substance called lipofuscin, which emits light of a similar colour. Lipofuscin has previously been linked to ageing, since it accumulates with increasing molecular damage. However, the new findings implicate another molecule called anthranilic acid as the source of the blue hue and show that lipofuscin is not actually involved.

"Together, the findings cast doubt on the theory that ageing is simply a consequence of an accumulation of molecular damage. We need to focus on the biological events that occur during ageing and death to properly understand how we might be able to interrupt these processes," added Professor Gems.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cassandra Coburn, Erik Allman, Parag Mahanti, Alexandre Benedetto, Filipe Cabreiro, Zachary Pincus, Filip Matthijssens, Caroline Araiz, Abraham Mandel, Manolis Vlachos, Sally-Anne Edwards, Grahame Fischer, Alexander Davidson, Rosina E. Pryor, Ailsa Stevens, Frank J. Slack, Nektarios Tavernarakis, Bart P. Braeckman, Frank C. Schroeder, Keith Nehrke, David Gems. Anthranilate Fluorescence Marks a Calcium-Propagated Necrotic Wave That Promotes Organismal Death in C. elegans. PLoS Biology, 2013; 11 (7): e1001613 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001613

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Wave of blue fluorescence reveals pathway of death in worms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130723181218.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2013, July 23). Wave of blue fluorescence reveals pathway of death in worms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130723181218.htm
Public Library of Science. "Wave of blue fluorescence reveals pathway of death in worms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130723181218.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins