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April 2013:  Undergraduate students win presentation awards
Two undergraduate students studying hairworms won awards for their presentations at the annual meeting of the Southwestern Association of Parasitologists (SWAP) held at Lake Texoma, Oklahoma. Best undergraduate presentation award went to Tyler Sedam for his talk entitled: "Behavioral effects Paragordius varius (Nematomorpha: Gordiida) on male Acheta domesticus crickets".  Patricia Estrella won the second place undgergraduate award for her talk entitled:  "Going it Alone? Characterizing the response of a parasite upon immune challenge of the host-parasite unit".  Both students are studying at the University of New Mexico. Congratulations!!

SWAP 2013
Left photo:, Tyler Sedam receiving congratulations from SWAP president Dr. Chuck Blend.  Right photo: Patricia Estrella recieving her congratulations.

March 2013:  Hairworm Biodiversity Survey Team conducts survey in Argentina
Three members of the Hairworm Biodiversity Team spent three weeks in Argentina collecting Hairworms.  The team started in La Plata, and slowly worked north ending in Salta.  The team not only returned with numerous samples, but also with much closer connections to scientists in Argentina working on Hairworms.  Over the next few months the team will begin analysing their data; stay tuned for more results.

Collecting in Argentina

Collecting in Quebrada del Condorito National Park, Argentina.  Front to back: Matt Bolek, Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa, and Argentina-based team member Fernanda Zanca.

February 2013:  A garden is a place to grow...Worms!
The Hairworm biodiversity team was contacted by Margaret Roach, who found a hairworm at her home in the American Northeast.  Since Margaret is an avid gardener and blogger, hairworms soon made it onto her blog.  Check out the interview and story here:

October 2012:  Hairworms on South Korean TV
The South Korean Educational Broadcasting Systems (EBS) visited the lab of Ben Hanelt at the University of New Mexico for an interview.  The television team is producing an educational documentary dealing with the topic of interactions between parasites and hosts, and their role in evolutionary biology.  The specific episode featuring hairworms will deal with how manipulative parasites control their hosts’ behavior, physical appearance and physiological processes to lead to multiplication of their species.  The episode should air in South Korea during the early part of 2013.

EBS filming in UNM lab
Filming at the lab of Ben Hanelt at the University of New Mexico.

August 2012:  Nematomorpha Facebook page
Copyright by Facebook.comKai Sinnhuber-Fleischer (University of Hamburg) recently announced that he has set up a Facebook page for individuals interested in the study of hairworms.  He set up a group named the "International Nematomorpha Community".  Anyone with an interest in getting and staying in touch with active hairworm researchers can join the group and post questions, images and ideas.  In the future, we hope to also use this tool to interface with the general public.  To join, please log into your Facebook account, and navigate to THIS webpage:

July 2012:  2012 International Nematomorpha Symposium held in Richmond, Virginia
The first International Nematomorpha Symposium was held in conjunction with the 87th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists (ASP) at the Omni Richmond Hotel in Richmond Virginia. The dates of the ASP meeting were July 13-16, 2012 in historic downtown Richmond. At this meeting a total of 17 presentations were made involving hairworms (14 oral presentations and 3 poster presentations).  The schedule of the Symposium can be viewed HERE; for more information about the ASP meeting please follow THIS link. The symposium involved hairworm experts from: The United States of America, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, Argentina, and Georgia.

Attendees of the 2012 International Nematomorpha Symposium

Photo taken at the 2012 International Nematomorpha Symposim.

Standing row, left to right: Takuya Sato, Evan Maldonado, Cleo Szmygiel, R. Tyler Sedam, Alyssa Begay, Matt Bolek, Nunu Kintsurashvili, Fernanda Zanka, Kai Sinnhuber-Fleischer.

Kneeling row, left to right: Christina Williams, Cecilia Achiorno, Ben Hanelt, Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa, Ming-Chung Chiu

April 2012:  PLoS ONE publishes new species description of first parthenogenic hairworm
The open source journal PLoS ONE published a paper by the members of the Hairworm Biodiversity Project, describing Paragordius obamai from Kenya.  To see the paper, follow THIS link.  To learn more about this discovery click HERE. To read the accompanying press release click HERE.

April 2012:  Students present on various aspects of hairworm biology at regional meeting
The 45th annual meeting of the Southwestern Association of Parasitologists (SWAP) met April 12-14, 2012. Of 36 talks and posters, 6 concerned the ecology, biodiversity, and ecology of hairworms.  To view a schedule in pdf format please click HERE.  To learn more about SWAP, follow THIS link.

April 2012:  Student makes splash with UNM Research Day Poster
Josh Niforatos presented a posted entitled: "Looking for Love in all the Right Places? How Hairworms (Nematomorpha: Gordiida) find Potential Mates", at the 21st annual University of New Mexico, Biology Research Day.  Josh is an undergraduate student working in Ben Hanelt's lab at UNM.  He is working on mate finding behavior of the free-living adult hairworms.

June 2011: Mentors and mentees of Hairworm Biodiversity Project make strong showing at National Parasitology Meeting
Members of the Hairworm Biodiversity Project gave numerous scientific presentations at the 86th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists (ASP) in Anchorage, Alaska.  The talks included a description of two new Gordionus species by undergraduate student Alyssa Begay.  In addition, the members of the Hairworm Biodiversity Project attended a mini-workshop led by co-PI Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa who presented on the morphology of hairworms. To see a schedule of this meeting please follow THIS link.

March 2011:  Citizen Scientists help identify spring hairworm hotspot in California
During the month of March, the Hairworm Biodiversity team has received a large number of hairworm reports from the state of California.  Reports have come from southern (San Diego) to northern (Mendocino) parts of the state.  Many of these Citizen Scientists have sent samples to our team for additional study.   This kind of data is invaluable to us, since it is nearly impossible to conduct year-round monitoring throughout continents. Thanks to all who have shared their findings, and we would be happy if you joined us as a Citizen Scientist and told us about any finds you may make.

December 2010:  Biodiversity Survey undergraduate mentee gives talks at Jemez Pueblo High School
Alyssa Begay along with several members of the University of New Mexico Opportunities for Undergraduates (UnO) program presented their student research projects to high school students at Jemez Pueblo, in Western New Mexico.  Alyssa met with 3 classes (>50 students) taught by Mr. Ron Kruege, and taught students about hairworms.  Her talk was very well received and recruited these students to keep an eye out for these curious creatures.  She also talked about how the undergraduate experiences in research opened up new perspectives and broadened her future horizon.  To learn more about UnO follow THIS link.

November 2010:  Biodiversity Survey members send live worms to nursing program classroom, providing an experience "students will not soon forget"
In October, we received a plea from Karen, a student at Oklahoma Baptist University, who was tasked to give a 30 minute presentation on how hairworms impact human beings.  The plea was for live worms to be used as a teaching tool to draw students into a hands-on learning experience.  Karen started the presentation by putting a Gordian knot of worms into a large fish bowl.  Students asked "Those aren't real, are they?"  Karen writes that "I am sure my presentation is one that the students will not soon forget."  Rather than just talking about the impact of hairworms on humans, I think that Karen made and impact on humans through hairworms.  Way to go Karen!!!

August 2010:  National Science Foundation funds Hairworm Biodiversity Survey of the New World
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the Hairworm Biodiversity Survey Team a grant of $578,176 to study the diversity and systematics of hairworms in the Americas.  The grant is entitled: "Unraveling a Gordian knot: Biodiversity of Gordian worms, phylum Nematomorpha, in the New World".  The grant provides funding for Ben Hanelt, Matt Bolek , and Andreas-Schmidt-Rhaesa.  The project will run from 1 August 2010 to 31 July 2013.  To find out more, please follow this or this link.

August 2010: Hairworm biodiversity talk presented at international parasitology meeting
Matt Bolek presented information on the biodiversity of hairworms at the 12th meeting of the International Congress of Parasitologists (ICoPa) in Melbourne Australia.  His talk was presented in a biodiversity seminar and was entitled: Unravelling a Gordian knot: Biodiversity of Gordian worms, phylum Nematomorpha (click here for the abstract).

June 2010: Hairworm biology presented at Teacher Education Workshop; educators horrified and intrigued
At the 2010 annual meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Matt Bolek presented a talk on parasites in the Teacher Education Workshop entitled: The cool, the bad, and the ugly.  The highlight of his talk was this video, which caused educators and professional parasitologists alike to squirm in their seats.  

May 2010: New hairworm species described at Midwestern regional parasitology meeting
Matt Bolek presented the species description of a new hairworm species, Chordodes janovyi at the 62nd Annual Midwestern Conference of Parasitologists in Macomb, Illinois.  This species has been named in honor of Dr. John Janovy Jr., parasitologist, educator, gentleman.  The talk was entitled: Redescription of the African Chordodes albibarbatus Montgomery 1898, and description of a new species of Chordodes (Gordiida, Nematomorpha) and its non-adult stages from Cameroon, Africa (click here for the abstract).

April 2010: Undergraduate student presents poster at regional parasitology meeting
At the 43rd  annual meeting of the Southwestern Association of Parasitologists, in Lake Texoma, Oklahoma, Erin Rogers, an undergraduate student in Matt Bolek's lab at Oklahoma State University, presented a poster entitled: "Suspending life cycle in the cold:  Survival of larval and cyst stages of gordiids (Nematomorpha) to freezing" (click here for the abstract).


June 2009:  Filling geographical gaps
Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa collaborated with colleagues from countries, from which no or only very rare information of the nematomorph fauna were known. These are: Estonia, Georgia, Spain, Turkey and  Serbia. In each case, motivated local researchers are in close collaboration with Andreas. The outcomes are new records and new species.


June 2009:  Seminar at the University Bielefeld
On June 3, Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa gave a talk in the Evolutionary Biology Seminar at the University Bielefeld, Germany entitled: “Manipulation of hosts by parasites and possible consequences for the evolution of the hosts. Example: horsehair worms (Nematomorpha)“.

March 2009: Nematomorph seminar presented at the Zoology Department at Oklahoma State University
The Department of Zoology at the Oklahoma State University hosted a department seminar by Ben Hanelt entitled: “Untying a Gordian knot: The biology of freshwater nematomorphs”.  Ben was hosted by Matt and Melissa Bolek.

October 2008: Two new gordiid species collected from Africa
Ben Hanelt spent six weeks in the field near Kisumu Kenya working on an NIH-funded schistosome project.  During this time, Ben was able collect snails infected with two different gordiid cysts.  Upon return to the laboratory, he and Matt Bolek infected crickets with these snails.  Adult worms recovered from the crickets revealed the two cyst types to represent two previously unknown gordiid species.  One of these species has been recently described as Paragordius varius.

August 2008:  Undergraduate student awarded travel grant and presents paper at American Society of Parasitologists
At the 83rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists (ASP) in Arlington Texas, Whitney Doerfert presented an oral presentation entitled: The Chosen Frozen: Cold-Tolerance and Survival of Paragordius varius (Nematomorpha:Gordiida) Larvae.  Whitney is an undergraduate researcher at the University of New Mexico, in Ben Hanelt's lab.  To present this work, Whitney was awarded (by ASP) with a prestigious Marc Dresden Travel Grant.
To read the abstract (as a pdf), click here and look for abstract #13.

October 2007:  New species and records from Japanese nematomorphs
An invitation to investigate nematomorphs around Lake Biwa in Southern Japan led to an ongoing collaboration of Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa with several Japanese colleagues, during which one new species could be described and two species were determined that were unknown to Japan.
To see an abstract of work resulting from this collaboration, click here.

Copyright 2014 Ben Hanelt, Matt Bolek, and Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa
Updated: July 2014