Glow Worms, Glow!

You’ve heard of earthworms? But what about… AIR WORMS?! 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Ah, nothing like a breath of fresh air. Good air quality is essential for our health. But how do we know we’re breathing dirty air BEFORE it hurts us? 

Sari Paavanen-Huhtala from the University of Turku and an international team say: DIG THIS! Microscopic worms called nematodes!

Nematodes are highly sensitive to changes in their environment. Scientists introduced a gene that makes the worms GLOW GREEN when they detect environmental contaminants. What a VIBRANT solution!

They placed the worms in glass dishes next to two carpets. One carpet had extreme moisture damage; the other was clean. The worms lit up in the presence of toxic compounds produced by the damaged carpet! The higher the contamination, the brighter the worms glowed!

These glowing, wise worms may one day provide a safe, eco-friendly monitoring system. 

Want to get some clean air? Do the worm, MAN! 


Paavanen-Huhtala S, Kalichamy K, Pessi A-M, Häkkilä S, Saarto A, Tuomela M, Andersson MA, Koskinen PJ. Biomonitoring of Indoor Air Fungal or Chemical Toxins with Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes. Pathogens. 2023; 12(2):161.