Research Report: Deep-sea worms are ‘green bombers’


Seven previously unknown species of swimming worms (some nearly 4 inches long) have been discovered by scientists using remotely operated vehicles at ocean depths between 6,000 and 12,000 feet. Some of the worms have the ability to release body parts that produce a brilliant green bioluminescent display. Why the worms do this is unknown.

Transparent except for the gut area, the worms feature a variety of elaborate head appendages and propel themselves with fans of long bristles that form swimming paddles. Five species are equipped with luminescent structures: “bombs” of fluid-filled spheres that suddenly burst into light when released by the animal, glowing intensely for several seconds before fading. One species has been given the scientific name Swima bombiviridis (swimming green bomber).

An international team led by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD made the discovery and report the findings in the journal Science.

Understanding meningitis

The deadly brain infection meningitis develops when bacteria penetrates the blood-brain barrier - a specialized layer of cells that normally protects the brain from most common infections.

Researchers at the UCSD School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences have discovered a specific protein on the surface of Streptococcus pneumoniae (commonly known as pneumococcus) that allows the bacteria to leave the bloodstream and enter the brain initiating meningitis. The finding is reported in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Pneumococcus is responsible for half the cases of bacterial meningitis in humans. Because the newly discovered protein is expressed on the surface of all pneumococcal strains, it is an attractive candidate for future vaccine development.

Tracking network delays

Computer scientists have developed an inexpensive solution for diagnosing delays in data center networks - delays that can lead to multimillion-dollar losses for automatic stock trading systems as well as impact high performance cluster computing applications run by Fortune 500 companies and universities.

The new approach, developed by computer scientists at UCSD and Purdue University, offers the possibility of diagnosing delays down to tens to microseconds. According to researchers, the solution (called the Lossy Difference Aggregator) could be implemented in today’s router designs with almost zero cost in terms of router hardware and with no performance penalty.

The findings were presented at SIGCOMM, considered to be the world’s leading conference in data communications and networking.