Morning: C. elegans

Today’s morning name: the biological workhorse nematode, C. elegans.

From Wikipedia:

Caenorhabditis elegans … is a free-living (not parasitic), transparent nematode (roundworm), about 1 mm in length, that lives in temperate soil environments. The name is a blend of Greek (caeno– – recent, rhabditis – rod-like) and Latin (elegans – elegant).

C. elegans is an unsegmented pseudocoelomate, and lacks a respiratory and a circulatory system. The majority of these nematodes are female hermaphrodites. Males have specialised tails for mating that include spicules [needlelike, sharp-pointed structures]. They possess gut granules which emit a brilliant blue fluorescence, a wave of which is seen at death in a ‘death fluorescence’.

In 1963, Sydney Brenner proposed research into C. elegans primarily in the area of neuronal development. In 1974, he began research into the molecular and developmental biology of C. elegans, which has since been extensively used as a model organism.

C. elegans was the first multicellular organism to have its whole genome sequenced, and as of 2012, the only organism to have its connectome (neuronal “wiring diagram”) completed.

A hermaphodite.

Aside from extensive research on genetics using the creature, it has also served in research on nicotine dependence, ageing, sleep, and the effects of zero gravity. A mighty worm.

One Response to “Morning: C. elegans”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    The genomic sequencing of C. elegans was completed at my medical alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis. I thought it should have been celebrated by shape note singers doing all Isaac Watts’s worm songs. In the New Harp of Columbia we sing DEVIZES’ Handelian warble to:
    Upon a poor polluted worm
    He makes his grace to shine.
    (Perhaps the Purple Luted Worm meets the Man with the Blue Guitar.)

    The pronunciation of Caenorhabditis is rather challenging – I suppose it’s pronounced SEE-no-rab-DYE-tis. In the US it’s usually pronounced see-YELLa-ganz.

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