Nematode training involves 3 methods: “head touch,” “body touch,” and “tapping” (petri dish vibration), all of which evoke a backward withdrawal reflex. These methods are normally used with Caenorhabditis elegans to isolate neurons responsible for associative learning in the nematode. They are often studied by tapping the dish, watching C. elegans move backwards when sensing the vibration, then ablating neurons and trying again, watching for an altered response.
FOR KNOWLEDGE OR PROFIT?
As is often the case, good science doesn’t pay for itself and great discoveries need to be funded.
CELL KILLS MAKE IT WORK!
A detail seldom celebrated in these backroom cabals is the fact that AVA interneurons must be killed
CROSSING THE LINE?
An uncomfortable, if impressive, level of training has been achieved by the extreme training methods of Dr. N. Schomaker in his Miracle Microcosm show, in which aggressive “body touch”
Using a short-lived breed of Mermis apexia and adding the more controversial release of neurotoxins and nutrient gradients, he has achieved (by second-hand accounts) a formation called The Nematode Ball (Fig 4).
This achievement must be appreciated for its difficulty and beauty as much as for its ethical questionability. Can a valid argument be made that these animals are allowed to "express normal behaviours", or that they are granted "sufficient space, proper facilities, shelter, a comfortable rest area, and company of the animal's own kind," as set out by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council? Even the "Utilitarian Approach" might allow discomfort or suffering if the trade-off is considered worthwhile, but for entertainment? Critics argue that but for the decentralized nervous systems, these highly technical animal shows amount ethically to little more than tiny cockfights.
My colleagues show expertise with their subjects, but the potential toxicity and irreversible damage are not justified by the scientific value of the exercise (a formula better balanced by the author’s own nutrient-gradient-driven M. apexia Drag Races).
Will YOU reject unethical behavior performed in the name of easy science funding?
If you care about Nematode welfare,
drop me a line at TheMermithidTruth@gmail.com