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The campus of NUI Maynooth. Photo by: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland

Maynooth researchers discover the Genghis Khan of the worm world

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The campus of NUI Maynooth. Photo by: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland

Scientists at a university in Maynooth, County Kildare have discovered the Genghis Khan of the worm world.

Researchers at NUI Maynooth have confirmed their discovery of a microscopic worm that battles to the death in order to kill off rivals, protect a food source and claim all the females.

The Irish Times says the scientists have described it as the Genghis Khan of the worm world given its no nonsense approach to running the neighborhood.

The paper reports that the fearsome Mongol leader conquered lands from eastern Asia to the edge of Europe, leaving his military mark but also a genetic one.

According to the paper, his genes are seen in 0.5 percent of the world male population or 16 million descendants, so, to say the least, the Great Khan got around.

The report adds that the nematode worm Steirnema longicaudum is doing a good imitation, fighting to kill off male rivals and see its own genes spread as far as possible.

Experts from Maynooth have told the paper that its field of battle, however, only extends as far as the inside of a dead insect.

Dr Christine Griffin, PhD student Annemie Zennernt and colleagues at NUI Maynooth discovered the bloodthirsty approach of this species of fight-to-the-finish worms.

Dr Griffin told the Irish Times that the microscopic worms invade insects, using them as a handy 'meal on wheels' for their developing young.

She said, “They enter and kill the insect and develop inside and this presents a large resource.

“The worms that invade an insect first are the ones who will fight.”

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