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Amorous worms reveal effects of Chernobyl

However, the third species, Dero obtusa, showed double the rate of asexual reproduction in the polluted lake.

Polikarpov thinks the worms have switched to sexual reproduction in an attempt to protect themselves from the radiation. Sexual reproduction allows natural selection to promote genes that offer better protection from radiation damage, and "the resistance of populations as a whole will be increased", he suggests. Carmel Mothersill from the Dublin Institute of Technology, one of the experts helping the ICRP develop its new policy on protecting wildlife, agrees. "It is a plausible mechanism," she says.


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Contact: Claire Bowles
claire.bowles@rbi.co.uk
44-207-331-2751
New Scientist
9-Apr-2003


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