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Background Resources:

Cell Lineage/Fate Map of C. elegans
About C. elegans: Commonly known as "worm" in C. elegans research community, it is a tiny free living nematode. More about C. elegans —.

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

A family tree: 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 can be found (click the image to see the complete lineage, 1.12 MB).

"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 by John Moore p. 494)". As the complete cell lineage shows above, from top to bottom, you can see an un-cleaved, just fertilized zygote, 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 information about cell lineage —.

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1. Moore, A. J., Science as a way of knowing-developmental biology, The American Society of Zoologists, 27, 415-573 (1987).