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Why C. elegans?

Know thy worm!


The free-living nematode C. elegans is a popular model organism in biological research. They are widely used for many reasons. For instance, their genome is completely sequenced and is similar to humans (40% homologous). They reproduce quickly and it is easy to produce numerous mutants for genetic research. A hermaphrodite worm is about 1 mm long with 959 cells, and the position of these cells are constant. In addition, they are easy to take care of in a lab (they can be frozen and thawed – which makes a powerful tool in genetics research.


Nobel prizes have been awarded to 5 C. elegans researchers.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2002

John Sulston, Sidney Brenner, and Robert Horvitz for their discoveries of "genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death".

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2006

Andrew Fire and Graig Mello, for their discovery of “RNA interference – gene silencing by double-stranded RNA“.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2008

Martin Chalfie, for the discovery of "development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP".

Lab activities with C. elegans

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