Paper on toxic stabbing mechanism of worm wins 2018 Reinhard Rieger-Award

Undergraduate alumni of UMaine’s School of Biology and Ecology, Ani Varjabedian and Efrat Hamami, and their capstone advisor Seth Tyler recently won the 2018 Reinhard Rieger-Award.

The team were recognized for their paper “Functional morphology of the venom apparatus of Prorhynchus stagnalis (Platyhelminthes, Lecithoepitheliata)” on how Prorhynchus stagnalis, a turbellarian flatworm common in Maine’s ponds and streams, shoots a slender probe from its mouth to stab and inject toxins into its prey. When mature, the worm also uses the probe’s venom apparatus as a copulatory organ.

Varjabedian and Hamami used confocal microscopy, and SEM as well as conventional histological techniques by light microscopy in their study.

The award recognizes an outstanding research article in the field of zoomorphology and is sponsored and selected by a panel from two leading international journals in the field of zoomorphology – “Journal of Morphology” (John Wiley & Sons) and “Zoomorphology” (Springer) – and by the Institute of Zoology at the University of Innsbruck. It honors the memory of the institute’s former faculty member, zoologist Reinhard Rieger.

The award included a grant of $3,000, which Varjabedian and Hamami will share. Varjabedian and Hamami are both currently pursuing PhD degrees.