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Worms

Ecologist

30th November, 1999

Scientists have found that the UK’s common or garden earthworms are far more diverse than previously thought, a discovery with important consequences for agriculture.

BBSRC-funded scientists at Cardiff University, led by Dr Bill Symondson and performed in the laboratory by postdoctoral scientist Dr Andrew King and undergraduate student Ms Amy Tibble, have found that many of the common earthworm species found in gardens and on agricultural land are actually made up of a number of distinct species that may have different roles in food chains and soil structure and ecology. This discovery was made when efforts to develop better tools to identify earthworm DNA in the guts of slug and worm-eating beetles produced some very unexpected results. The research is published today (10 October) in Molecular Ecology.

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