The discovery was conducted by an international research team led by an evolutionary biologist at Lund University in Sweden, Nathalie Feiner. They discovered the worms studying the common wall lizards throughout Europe, but nematodes were confined to a single population in Pyrenees.
“I was surprised when I saw something moving in the brain of the embryo, despite having gone a lot of lizard eggs before”, says Nathalie Feiner.
The next surprise came when the team found nematodes in the mother’s ovaries.
Worms are new species of round worms that are found in the ovaries and in the brain of embryos. The researchers believe that from nematodes in the intestines they come from, and have adapted to a new lifestyle in women’s ovaries. They also consider that the worms enter the brain developing from the female ovary early in embryonic development, suggesting that a male lizard does not spread the parasites.
According to the researchers, the sisters of the distributed embryos were healthy, although they had worms in their brain.
Nathalie Feiner will no longer accept the research. However, she hopes that other researchers will leave where she left:
“Parasites differ from my field of research, so I hope that others will take this discovery. It would be exciting to find out if this vertical transmission is unique to the nematodes we have found in the common wall lizards, or if this happens in other species as well. It would also be interesting to find out if worms affect their brain’s behavior ”.
Publication in The American Naturalist: Vertical nematode transmission from female to brains to offspring