An order for worms was placed with Redworm Composting1. One pound each of two kinds of worms were ordered (using personal funds): “Eisenia fetida(the red wiggler worm) and Eisenia hortensis (the European nightcrawler)”. I note that we decided to use worms ordered from a common vermicomposting source so that the genomics work here was more likely to be of relevance to real world applications than might be the case for laboratory specimens of these taxa.
The worms arrived in two separate shipments delivered directly to UC Davis. Figure 1 shows one of the boxes that was delivered. The second box was similar to this one.
There was no information inside or out as to which worms these were and thus we referred initially to the two shipments as “Worm #1” and “Worm #2.” Photographs and videos were taken of some representatives of each of Worm #1 and Worm #2 (see Figures and YouTube Videos – Worm #1 and Worm #2).
A sample of individuals of “Worm #1” and “Worm #2” were removed from the canvas bags and frozen in individual 50 ml tubes for further studies.
Not wasting extra worms.
The remaining worms were used to seed personal vermicomposting activities in multiple locations in Davis, CA.
Meanwhile, the vendor was contacted to attempt to identify which shipment corresponded to which worms but the vendor did not have tracking IDs for the separate shipments which came from different sources.Based upon appearance we were confident in identifying which shipment corresponded to which worm, but to double check we sent photographs to the vendor. It was confirmed that Worm #1 was supposed to be the European Nightcrawler (Eisenia hortensis) and Worm #2 the red wiggler worm (Eisenia fetida).
DNA was extracted by Qingyi (John) Zhang in the J. Eisen lab from small pieces of a single representative of each worm (i.e., worm #1 and worm #2). DNA was stored at -80 °C and then used for DNA sequencing. An aliquot of DNA was sent to the M. Eisen lab at UC Berkeley.