About Cell Lineage and Fate Mapping

Commonly known as "worm" in C. elegans research community, it is a tiny free living nematode. Read more about C. elegans....

One particular advantage of using C. elegans for determining cell lineages is that it is transparent, allowing the dividing cells to be traced during embryonic development.

Cell lineage is analogous to a family tree of cell types. One is able to find a cell's predecessors ("parents") and successors ("children") by tracing the tree. The complete cell lineage of C. elegans has been mapped out.

"The cell lineage is the description of the history of each embryonic cell beginning with the un-cleaved egg, the products of every division are traced until the rudiments of the embryonic organs have become distinct" (Ways of Knowing, John Moore, p. 494). As the complete cell lineage shows above, from top to bottom, you can see an un-cleaved, just fertilized zygote, the P0 cell divides into two daughter cells (AB and P1 cells). The two daughter cells then divide into more daughter cells that eventually form a map and enable one to trace a cell's predecessors and successors.

More About C. elegans (off site)

More About Cell Lineage/Fate Mapping (off site)