Male water fleas observed for first time

December 6, 2005

University of Buffalo researchers say they have observed the first male water fleas scientists have ever seen.

The UB scientists say their discovery opens a new window on the biological diversity of several species of water fleas, including those in the genus Daphnia and the genus Bosmina, that play major roles in freshwater food webs.

Water fleas are nearly microscopic organisms with transparent bodies. Found in lakes, ponds and other bodies of fresh water, they are crustaceans, like lobsters, and not insects, as their name suggests.

In stable environments, female water fleas generally reproduce asexually, essentially cloning themselves and resulting in populations of females that are practically impossible to tell apart. Water flea populations grow much faster when they reproduce asexually than when they do so sexually, Derek Taylor, associate professor of biological sciences and co-author of the paper, explained.

He said the practice of rarely producing males has likely existed for 100 million years or more in a large group of freshwater crustaceans.

The study appeared in November's Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Are amoebae safe harbors for plague?

Related Stories

Are amoebae safe harbors for plague?

January 16, 2018

Amoebae, single-celled organisms common in soil, water and grade-school science classrooms, may play a key role in the survival and spread of deadly plague bacteria.

Epidemic this year? Check the lake's shape

May 5, 2010

Of all the things that might control the onset of disease epidemics in Michigan lakes, the shape of the lakes' bottoms might seem unlikely. But that is precisely the case, and a new BioScience report by scientists from Indiana ...

Recommended for you

Cells lacking nuclei struggle to move in 3-D environments

January 20, 2018

University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have revealed new details of how the physical properties of the nucleus influence how cells can move around different environments - such as ...

Information engine operates with nearly perfect efficiency

January 19, 2018

Physicists have experimentally demonstrated an information engine—a device that converts information into work—with an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics. Instead, the engine's efficiency ...

Team takes a deep look at memristors

January 19, 2018

In the race to build a computer that mimics the massive computational power of the human brain, researchers are increasingly turning to memristors, which can vary their electrical resistance based on the memory of past activity. ...

Fast computer control for molecular machines

January 19, 2018

Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a novel electric propulsion technology for nanorobots. It allows molecular machines to move a hundred thousand times faster than with the biochemical processes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.