A Transparent Window into Biology: A Primer on Caenorhabditis elegans.
Bottom Line: We survey the basic anatomical features, common technical approaches, and important discoveries in C. elegans research.Key to studying C. elegans has been the ability to address biological problems genetically, using both forward and reverse genetics, both at the level of the entire organism and at the level of the single, identified cell.These possibilities make C. elegans useful not only in research laboratories, but also in the classroom where it can be used to excite students who actually can see what is happening inside live cells and tissues.
Affiliation: Biology Department, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org.Show MeSH
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Mentions: Caenorhabditis and other nematodes belong to the phylum Nematoda, which is part of a larger group of the clade Ecdysozoa (Figure 7A; Bourlat et al. 2008). This clade contains organisms that shed a cuticle by molting (or ecdysis) (Bourlat et al. 2008). Therefore, C. elegans are more related to Drosophila and other insects than to mollusks, earthworms, or humans. The Caenorhabditis genus is included in the order Rhabditida, itself part of the larger subclass Chromadoria (De Ley 2006). While all known Caenorhabditis species are free living, the Rhabditidae include animal and plant parasites, as well as free-living species that exist in a variety of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems (Kiontke and Fitch 2005). As the ecology of Caenorhabditis is increasingly better understood, more species have been identified (Figure 7B; Félix et al. 2014). C. elegans has served as a rich starting place for comparative evolutionary studies among species. For example, developmental biologists use related nematode species to explore the changes in regulatory pathways and organogenesis that occur during evolution (Sommer 2005) and the frequent independent evolution of hermaphroditism (Figure 7B; Baldi et al. 2009).
Affiliation: Biology Department, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com.