Molting cleanses water fleas

Losing a carapace means also losing parasitic bacteria

7:20pm, April 11, 2012

Getting naked may help to protect a species of tiny water flea. When Daphnia magna molts, its discarded body armor can carry away harmful bacteria, a new study finds.

The work is the first time molting has been shown to safeguard against parasites, says evolutionary biologist David Duneau of Cornell University.

“The common view of molting is that it’s a weakness for these types of animals,” says Duneau, coauthor of a study published online April 11 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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