Family Tree vs. Cell Lineage

Think about the development of a human family tree, cells inside C. elegans and even cells inside your body. What are the similarities and differences between them?

Please observe the two movies below and come up with your observations and questions for discussion.

Trace Back A Family Tree

Here is an example family tree tracing back from grandson to grandpa. Try to trace your family tree from you up to your grandma or grandpa or great-grandparents. Click the family tree below to see an animation.

Example family tree

Trace Back A C. elegans Intestine Cell

This movie traces the development of intestine cells backwards to where they came from.

Embryogenesis of C. elegans has some background information to help you observe this movie. C. elegans Cell Lineage contains useful resources to help you understand the development of cell lineage.

Questions to Get You Started

  1. What might be the similarities and differences between your family tree and a cell’s family tree?
  2. Are the successor daughter cells in the C. elegans embryo developmentally more differentiated than their predecessors?
  3. Developmentally, are you more advanced/specified/differentiated than your grandparents?
  4. How do the fully differentiated intestinal cells differ from their mother cell?
FamilyTraceBack.swf70.58 KB
LineageTraceBack.swf5.31 MB