Image of the Day: Impaired Meiosis
Image of the Day: Impaired Meiosis

Image of the Day: Impaired Meiosis

A phthalate commonly found in shampoos, cosmetics, and cleaning products disrupts reproduction in worms.

Amy Schleunes
Amy Schleunes

A former intern at The Scientist, Amy studied neurobiology at Cornell University and later earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa. She is a Los...

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Feb 7, 2020
ABOVE: C. elegans gonads from a worm that was exposed to diethylhexyl phthalate (bottom), which shows defects in meiosis (yellow arrowheads), and from a worm that was treated with a solvent (top)
L. CUENCA ET AL., PLOS GENETICS, DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008529, 2020

Diethylhexyl phthalate, a widely used plasticizer associated with reproductive harm in mammals, leads to defects during meiosis in roundworms (Caenorhabditis elegans), researchers report in a study published on January 9 in PLOS Genetics.

Using a previously developed technology that causes worms to glow green when they display reproductive abnormalities, the researchers uncovered several aberrations during the process of meiosis in female worms, including double-stranded DNA breaks that weren’t properly repaired, altered chromosome morphology, eggs with the wrong number of chromosomes, and impaired embryogenesis, according to a press release.

“These are completely new findings and hopefully will shed some light as to how this phthalate impacts human reproductive health,” says coauthor Monica Colaiácovo in the statement.

L. Cuenca et al., “Environmentally-relevant exposure to diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) alters regulation of double-strand break formation and crossover designation leading to germline dysfunction in Caenorhabditis elegans,” doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008529, 2020.

Amy Schleunes is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at