Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Monday, September 4, 2017
Zooxanthellae are very sensitive to environmental changes, and temperature is a big factor that determines where the algae can survive. If the temperature raises too high, zooxanthellae will abandon the coral, and without the algae, the coral is pretty much doomed. This is how coral bleaching happens, and how it gets its name, because when the zooxanthellae leaves, the coral is left without the thing that gives it its vibrant color. With ocean temperature rising, we are seeing more reefs losing their color and dying, as the algae cannot withstand the heat.
(Side note: I also found that sunscreen of all things is super bad for coral and can cause bleaching. This natgeo article has more info on it http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/nature/is-sunscreen-killing-our-coral-reefs.aspx )
This relationship is crazy because it is the only known symbiotic relationship that inhabits the cells of a vertebrate. The boundaries of the relationship are crossed, with the algae actually slipping into the cells of the salamander. This relationship was discovered as researchers tagged the algae with fluorescent markers and had conclusive evidence that the organisms were contained inside the embryo, inside living cells of spotted salamander.
A comparison given was that this relationship would be like us humans having traces of algae inside the mother's womb and allowing it to be there.
As far as the benefits of relationship go, the salamanders do quite well, reversely, the algae is in a lot of stress. Researchers don't understand conclusively why this particular relationship exists if both organisms aren't benefiting as much as others do. Some question if this is even a symbiotic relationship at all, or merely a different form, yet to be seen elsewhere.
The symbiotic relationship of Bees and Orchids.
Polydnaviruses and Parasitic WaspsOut of all the symbiotic relationships I could find, the most intriguing and fascinatingly
gruesome was between Polydnaviruses and Parasitic Wasps. The process is a bit dense, so I’ll
start with the simplified version before trying to explain the more technical aspects of the
relationship. The Polydnaviruses (PDV) need the wasps in order to replicate, and the Parasitic
Wasps need the PDV in order to invade and occupy a host body, usually a caterpillar. The wasps
help PDV become a successful replicating virus, and PDV help the wasps to become more
effective parasites. Both would cease to thrive or even exist without the other.
Polydnaviruses reproduce inside the female wasps’ ovaries and cannot replicate outside
of the wasps, so PDV’s replication is dependent on the survival of wasps that carry PDV.
Parasitic Wasps, on the other hand, are independent insects as adults, but as eggs they develop
inside a host (the caterpillar) that provides essential nutrients. When a female wasp lays eggs in
the caterpillar, it also deposits Polydnavirus. The virus prevents the caterpillar’s blood cells from
encapsulating and killing the wasp eggs. Once the eggs are developed larvae and no longer need
the nutrients of the host, they release a chemical that paralyzes the caterpillar before they chew
their way out. At this point, the larvae are still susceptible to many environmental threats, mainly
other wasps. They immediately begin to spin cocoons for protection. At the same time, the
caterpillar also begins to spin a cocoon over all the individual larvae’s cocoons, adding an second
layer of protection. Scientists believe that this happens because PDV invades the caterpillar’s
brain, causing it to protect the larvae that invaded and fed off of it. The virus also causes
caterpillars to become aggressive, which helps to further protect the larvae. The caterpillar
literally sits atop them, acting as a guard until it eventually dies of starvation. The presence of
PDV in the caterpillar ensures that the wasp eggs can develop into larvae, then wasps, which
allows the PDV to replicate. This is a rare example in nature of a virus (PDV) evolving to have a
mutually beneficial relationship with a parasite. Scientists are now studying how that evolution
The crabs will carry these urchins to protect themselves from predators. The crabs will generally use urchins that are poisonous or spiky urchins. This also decreases the likeliness of an attack. So the crab get protection, it may seem like the urchin doesn't loose or gain anything from this, but they do. They get access to new feeding grounds. Although most urchins can move to new feeding grounds themselves, the crabs move them faster and more efficiently.
Sometimes this symbiotic relationship can actually turn into a chain of symbiotic relationships. Some smaller fish will take this opportunity to have a safe shelter from bigger fish and other predators while moving with the crab and the urchin to a different part of a reef. The video above however does not show the fish symbiotic relationship.
Saturday, September 2, 2017
Friday, September 1, 2017
The female wasp has a stinging organ in which the male does not. Once the wasp has found it's cockroach, it leaps into attack mode to sting the cockroach, injecting venom into it's abdomen, temporarily paralyzing the cockroach. But one sting isn't enough. The wasp then injects a second sting which immobilizes the brain, leaving the cockroach vulnerable and to complete use to the wasp. Because the wasp is too small to drag the cockroach into it's den, the wasp pulls at the antennae of the roach as if it were a leash.
Once the cockroach has been successfully lodged into it's burrow, the female wasp then lays a single egg onto the abdomen of the roach. From here, the wasp leaves it's burrow, burying it's entrance with pebbles to keep predators out. Completely helpless, the roach lays in the burrow for at least three days where the larvae will start to hatch and feed off of the roach's abdomen for about 4-5 days. At this point, the larvae starts to dig into the abdomen of the roach. The internal organs of the roach are being eaten by the larvae in the order that keeps the roach alive the longest. This ensures the freshness of the roach's flesh and prevents the organs from rotting if the roach were to die before the larvae finished feeding.
Once the cockroach is hollow (around 8 days of feeding time) the larvae reaches it's pupae stage and forms a cocoon within the cockroach. Eventually, the adult wasp will emerge from the burrow to begin the cycle all over again.
A New Symbiotic Relationship Has Been Found Unlike Any Before
A specific type of algae is found to inhabit the embryo cells of a breed of spotted salamander. Unlike other symbiotic relationships, this is the first one found involving a species actually inhabiting the cells of a vertebrate. Typically a symbiotic relationship of this kind is seen between multiple forms of bacteria to form a 'mutualistic' relationship where both types of bacteria benefit from their relationship with the other through a process that can include invading the actual cells and changing the makeup of the other bacteria. In traditional symbiotic relationships, a an organism will benefit from another organism through their activities while in close proximity to the other organism; this can be with something as large as a blue whale in a symbiotic relationship with the barnacles growing on its side. However, there are few instances where the boundaries between a symbiotic relationship between organisms and a mutualistic one between bacteria are crossed.
Originally the relationship between the spotted salamander and algae was thought to be a traditional ‘mutualistic’ symbiotic relationship where the algae would feed off the carbon and nitrogen coming from the salamander, and in return the eggs would get a supply of oxygen from the photosynthesizing algae. However, since the algae will actually slip inside the cells themselves similar to the ways in which bacteria will change the makeup of another bacteria, the relationships crosses the boundaries of the either of the traditional symbiotic relationship definitions. Upon entering the cells, the algae can no longer synthesize (due to the lack of oxygen and sunlight) and therefore becomes very stressed; using the same principles of many other plant cells in high-stress conditions, when the algae begins to ferment inside the egg cells.
The most confusing part about this development is that, despite scientists being convinced this is in fact a type of symbiotic relationship, there is no obvious benefit for either organism similar to ones seen in other symbiotic relationships. Despite the intrusion, the salamander’s cells allow the algae to co-habituate without any obvious benefit for the salamander. As of now, scientists are still researching what could be the benefit of such a relationship in the first found of its kind. Perhaps this will lead to the research and discovery of other endosymbiotic relationships in vertebrates.
Here is a photo scientists have collected of the salamander cells with the algae inside:https://www.boundless.com/microbiology/textbooks/boundless-microbiology-textbook/microbial-ecology-16/microbial-symbioses-196/mutualism-vs-symbiosis-987-10859/ http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news-archive/17995.html https://www.sciencealert.com/researchers-dig-into-the-genes-of-a-one-of-a-kind-of-symbiotic-relationship
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Monday, December 12, 2016
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
I recently found out about the Peacock Spider. It's an species in the arachnid group that are very small in stature, but giant in charisma! The superpower of the Peacock Spider is in the way they mate. Male Peacock Spiders use the language of dance. I'm totally not kidding. They are not only the choreographers, but they also create their own house music to dance to! It even gets to a point that male Peacock Spiders often compete with other males to see if their dancing is up to par. It's like Step Up but with little spiders. If a male spider's dancing isn't up to the standards of the female, the female will not hesitate to eat the male, but only if their dancing is bad. They're not only dancing for sex, but they're dancing for their lives.
The female spiders are known as the "Tina Belchers" of the animal kingdom. All they need is a cute butt and some good dance moves to get them in the mood.
This is a video of a male spider dancing to the YMCA. It's pretty great.