College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Caenorhabditis elegans (Roundworm)
Scientific Name: Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans)
- Free-living, transparent microscopic worm.
- Has more than 19,000 genes, compared to around 25,000 genes in humans. A vast number of genes in C. elegans are very similar to other organisms, including humans (around 40%!).
- Very defined pattern of growth involving a fixed number of cells (959 cells to be exact!), and rapidly reproduces in as little as 3 days.
Which UI Department of Biology researchers study this organism:
Why UI Department of Biology researchers use this organism:
- Understand how cells know what cell type to become. When cells do not differentiate properly, disease and development defects occur.
- Study how chromosomes segregate during meiosis, a special type of cell division necessary for sexual reproduction. When chromosomes do not segregate properly, birth defects can occur.
- Examine properties of certain proteins associated with nervous system disorders including Huntington’s disease, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, and muscular dystrophy.