Gaze Into This Vortex of Worms Trying to Self-Assemble into a Structure

Gaze Into This Vortex of Worms Trying to Self-Assemble into a Structure
Credit: © Professor Nigel Franks

Scientists have found that these worms self-assemble into structures that allow them to survive on broad, sandy beaches. One of the phases of this self-assembly is a big, floating worm spiral.

The mint sauce worm, Symsagittifera roscoffensis, is commonly studied in labs. It serves as a simple model for how symmetric animals develop, and how stem cells affect that development. It’s also easy to cultivate, and thrives in big groups. Now, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists from the University of Bristol are describing the behavior of those big groups—and have found the process that allows these worms to self-assemble into a kind of free-floating seaweed.

The mint-sauce worm is already close to a plant. If the adults’…

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