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微小的蠕虫可以在极端的环境中生存

zlxxm 于2019-12-20发布 l 已有人浏览
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“这些蠕虫可能要花100年才能穿过美国,如果它们能做到的话,而且它们需要日夜不停地前进。”即便如此:“当你近距离观察它们的时候,还是觉得非常可怕。”
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Tiny Worms Are Equipped to Battle Extreme Environments

微小的蠕虫可以在极端的环境中生存

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

在科幻小说《沙丘》中,沙漠星球阿拉基斯上居住着巨大可怕的沙虫。

[CLIP: "Gods, what a monster."]

【电影剪辑:“天哪,好可怕的怪物。”】

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

他们冲出沙丘,把车辆整个吞下。加州理工学院的遗传学家保罗·斯特恩伯格对此也很熟悉。

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。流行文化中任何与蠕虫有关的东西,我们都会研究。”

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。“大多数线虫用肉眼几乎看不见。”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,如果它们能做到的话,而且它们需要日夜不停地前进。”

Even so:

即便如此:

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

“当你近距离观察它们的时候,还是觉得非常可怕。”

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,他们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。这里盐分和碱性超标,还富含砷,而在此之前,已知的动物只有两种: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!“所以现在从两个物种发展到至少10个物种。这就是惊人之处。那湖里还有其他物种吗?有!人们应该去看看。”

Photos and details are in the journal Current Biology. [Pei-Yin Shih et al., Newly identified nematodes from Mono Lake exhibit extreme arsenic resistance]

关于研究的照片和细节刊登在《当代生物学》杂志上。[施培贤等,新发现的莫诺湖线虫表现出极端的抗砷性]

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.

“从蠕虫的角度来看,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?

比如或许火星上的环境?

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.

“我有一个想法,即我们应该将线虫送上去。如果我们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,这种场景只在科幻小说中才有。至少目前是这样。

- Christopher Intagliata

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