About C. elegans

C. elegans: the worm

C. elegans is a free-living, non-parasitic soil nematode that can be found throughout the world. It is transparent and about 1mm in size. "Worm" is its nickname. Researchers working with C. elegans call themselves "worm people" and form the "worm community" of research.

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Why Study C. elegans?

Why study C. elegans over other more advanced organisms? The two main reasons are commonalities with other organisms, and ease of operation.

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C. elegans as a Model Organism

Organisms like C. elegans are known as model organisms because they can be used to closely study and elucidate our understanding of basic biological phenomena that might not be easily researched in other organisms. C. elegans was first selected by Sydney Brenner for study for its properties as a model organism.

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Other Common Model Organisms

As you might guess, there are various model organisms used to study different biological phenomena. For instance, prokaryotic model organisms (e.g. E. coli) are useful for understanding other prokaryotic organisms (e.g. bacteria) that are often valuable in human disease research.

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Teaching With Model Organisms

  • Characteristics of model organisms
  • Why certain living organisms been chosen as model organisms in teaching
  • Advantages of using model organisms in teaching
  • Examples of model organisms popular in teaching

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Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2002

Acknowledging the completion of C. elegans cell lineage and accompanying research in cell death, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2002 was awarded to three C. elegans researchers that contributed to the "understanding of genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death" 1.