Forgotten nematode experiment

Rummaging through boxes in my studio i found a lunch box containing the nematode culture my sister gave me for Christmas. It was an unusual present – a tub of yellowish slime smelling of vinegar. These nematodes feed on yeast. The growth medium is porridge oats and a bit of yeast to get it going.

The microscopic worms form tree like patterns as they creep up the sides of the container; writhing masses of worms form super highways; (branches) either to escape the saturated lower regions of the culture or in seeking of new food – i dont know yet. these branchlets seem to persist for quite a while.

I mixed up 3 cultures to with varying amounts of oats and yeast and water unfortunately i lost my notes and forgot about this since Christmas. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were still fermenting & wriggling away in this tub with excellent results…


The original Tub showed stubby branches which did not go very high in the container. (originally these branches spread all over the inner surfaces) worms were still invisible.

Tub A and C pictured below..
Nematodes form into evenly spaces spots, clusters of tiny worms, around the inner surface. The worms are less than 1mm long but fairly active – in tub C the worms are inactive and form faint irregular branchings
tub Atub C

Tub B
Had very active complex branchings, and the worms had grown to about 2mm!
There is an interesting dynamic with the movement.

In the film (which was made in a bit of a rush) you will notice that when the worm moves across free space & meets another worm they move against each other the seem temporarily magnetize to each other & sometimes to deflect trajectories. This has to be partly to do with capillary build up of liquids around the worms bodies. Perhaps it is easier to collectively amass to hold fluid together, perhaps making it easier to move and feed. I plan to do some time lapse of this…

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