科学美国人(翻译):线虫可以在极端环境中生存 2019.10.18

cathy0301 2019-10-23 189 阅读
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In the science fiction story Dune, the desert planet Arrakis is inhabited by enormous, fearsome sandworms.

在科幻小说《沙丘》中,沙漠星球阿拉基斯(Arrakis)上居住着巨大的可怕的沙虫。

[CLIP: “Gods, what a monster.”]

片段:天啊,怪物!

They blast out of the dunes to swallow vehicles whole. They also looked sort of familiar to Caltech geneticist Paul Sternberg.

沙虫冲出沙丘,吞下所有的交通工具。加州理工学院的遗传学家保罗·斯特恩伯格却对这些沙虫很熟悉。

“They look like nematodes. You know, anything in the popular culture that has a relationship to worms, we follow.”

“它们看起来像线虫。你知道,流行文化中任何与蠕虫有关的东西,我们都会探索。”

Nematodes, of course, are much smaller than sandworms. “Most nematodes, you can just barely see.” And they’re much slower: “These worms would probably take 100 years to get across the U.S. if they could do it, and they went continuously day and night.”

当然,线虫比沙虫要小得多。“大多数线虫,你几乎看不见。它们的速度要慢得多:“这些蠕虫可能要花100年才能穿过美国,如果它们能做到,他们也需要日夜兼程。

Even so:

尽管如此:

“They're pretty scary when you look at them up close.”

“当你近距离观察它们的时候,仍然非常可怕。”

Sternberg and his colleagues had a hunch they might find nematodes lurking in one of California’s most extreme habitats: Mono Lake, on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. It’s supersalty, alkaline and loaded with arsenic—and, previously, known to harbor only two animal species: brine shrimp and alkali flies.

斯特恩伯格和他的同事们有一种预感,可能会在加州最极端的栖息地之一:内华达山脉东侧的莫诺湖发现潜伏的线虫。莫诺湖超咸的,碱性的,富含砷,而在此之前,这里已经发现了两种物种:盐水虾和碱蝇。

So the researchers took soil samples at beaches around the lake. And indeed, they found eight species of nematodes living there! “So we just went from two animals to at least 10 species. So that’s what's kind of striking. So are there gonna be others in the lake? Yeah! People should go look.”

因此,研究人员在湖周围的海滩采集了土壤样本。事实上,他们在那里发现了八种线虫!“所以我们从两个动物发展到至少10个物种。这样人匪夷所思。那湖里还有其他物种吗?是啊!人们应该去看看。”

Photos and details are in the journal Current Biology.

相关照片和细节刊登在《当代生物学》杂志上。

Sternberg and his colleagues were able to culture one of the worm species in the lab. They discovered that it could survive 500 times the dose of arsenic that would kill a human. But they also found that even nematodes that weren’t from Mono Lake seemed to have the genetic ability to resist the lethal element—meaning the worms may be natural-born extremophiles.

斯特恩伯格和他的同事们在实验室里培育出了一种蠕虫。他们发现,这种蠕虫的砷含量是人类的500倍。但他们也发现,即使不是来自莫诺湖的线虫似乎也有抵抗致命元素的遗传能力——这意味着这些线虫可能是天生的极端微生物。

“From the worm’s perspective, invading a host is a harsh environment. So I think there’s some general ability of the nematodes to adapt to harsh environments.”

蠕虫的角度来看,入侵宿主是一种恶劣的环境。所以我认为线虫有适应恶劣环境的一般能力。”

Like maybe Mars?

也许可能是火星?

“I have a fantasy that we should send nematodes. It would be really interesting if we could get the nematodes to photosynthesize—or carry photosynthetic organisms.”

我有一个幻想,我们应该发送线虫。如果能让线虫进行光合作用,或者携带光合生物,那将会非常有趣。”

Of course, that scenario is in the realm of science fiction. For now.

当然,至少现在,这种情景只在科幻小说里才有。

 



In the science fiction story Dune, the desert planet Arrakis is inhabited by enormous, fearsome sandworms.

在科幻小说《沙丘》中,沙漠星球阿拉基斯(Arrakis)上居住着巨大的可怕的沙虫。

[CLIP: “Gods, what a monster.”]

片段:天啊,怪物!

They blast out of the dunes to swallow vehicles whole. They also looked sort of familiar to Caltech geneticist Paul Sternberg.

沙虫冲出沙丘,吞下所有的交通工具。加州理工学院的遗传学家保罗·斯特恩伯格却对这些沙虫很熟悉。

“They look like nematodes. You know, anything in the popular culture that has a relationship to worms, we follow.”

“它们看起来像线虫。你知道,流行文化中任何与蠕虫有关的东西,我们都会探索。”

Nematodes, of course, are much smaller than sandworms. “Most nematodes, you can just barely see.” And they’re much slower: “These worms would probably take 100 years to get across the U.S. if they could do it, and they went continuously day and night.”

当然,线虫比沙虫要小得多。“大多数线虫,你几乎看不见。它们的速度要慢得多:“这些蠕虫可能要花100年才能穿过美国,如果它们能做到,他们也需要日夜兼程。

Even so:

尽管如此:

“They're pretty scary when you look at them up close.”

“当你近距离观察它们的时候,仍然非常可怕。”

Sternberg and his colleagues had a hunch they might find nematodes lurking in one of California’s most extreme habitats: Mono Lake, on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. It’s supersalty, alkaline and loaded with arsenic—and, previously, known to harbor only two animal species: brine shrimp and alkali flies.

斯特恩伯格和他的同事们有一种预感,可能会在加州最极端的栖息地之一:内华达山脉东侧的莫诺湖发现潜伏的线虫。莫诺湖超咸的,碱性的,富含砷,而在此之前,这里已经发现了两种物种:盐水虾和碱蝇。

So the researchers took soil samples at beaches around the lake. And indeed, they found eight species of nematodes living there! “So we just went from two animals to at least 10 species. So that’s what's kind of striking. So are there gonna be others in the lake? Yeah! People should go look.”

因此,研究人员在湖周围的海滩采集了土壤样本。事实上,他们在那里发现了八种线虫!“所以我们从两个动物发展到至少10个物种。这样人匪夷所思。那湖里还有其他物种吗?是啊!人们应该去看看。”

Photos and details are in the journal Current Biology.

相关照片和细节刊登在《当代生物学》杂志上。

Sternberg and his colleagues were able to culture one of the worm species in the lab. They discovered that it could survive 500 times the dose of arsenic that would kill a human. But they also found that even nematodes that weren’t from Mono Lake seemed to have the genetic ability to resist the lethal element—meaning the worms may be natural-born extremophiles.

斯特恩伯格和他的同事们在实验室里培育出了一种蠕虫。他们发现,这种蠕虫的砷含量是人类的500倍。但他们也发现,即使不是来自莫诺湖的线虫似乎也有抵抗致命元素的遗传能力——这意味着这些线虫可能是天生的极端微生物。

“From the worm’s perspective, invading a host is a harsh environment. So I think there’s some general ability of the nematodes to adapt to harsh environments.”

蠕虫的角度来看,入侵宿主是一种恶劣的环境。所以我认为线虫有适应恶劣环境的一般能力。”

Like maybe Mars?

也许可能是火星?

“I have a fantasy that we should send nematodes. It would be really interesting if we could get the nematodes to photosynthesize—or carry photosynthetic organisms.”

我有一个幻想,我们应该发送线虫。如果能让线虫进行光合作用,或者携带光合生物,那将会非常有趣。”

Of course, that scenario is in the realm of science fiction. For now.

当然,至少现在,这种情景只在科幻小说里才有。

 



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