C. elegans Life cycle

Life Cycle of C. elegans at 25°C:

  • Solid arrows: moltsG
  • From Egg to LarvaeG 1 (L1) stage: it takes 8 hours from the laying of egg to L1 stage. The whole embryogenesisG from sperm entry to hatching takes about 14 hours.
  • The DauerG stage: C. elegans develops into dauer larvae stage under starvation conditions.
  • From Dauer to L4: after placing in food, dauer larvae will reach L4 stage.
  • Its life cycle is about 3 days.


Epstein, F. H. & Shakes, C. D. (Ed). (1995). Caenorhabditis elegans: Modern Biological Analysis of an Organism. New York, NY: Academic Press.


Dauer: a developmental stage of C. elegans that occurs under starvation conditions in which the larva enters developmental stasis. With food, the dauer larva can reach L4 stage and then become an adult.

Embryogenesis: early developmental process of an individual from a fertilized egg (zygote) to hatching.

Larvae: the immature forms of C. elegans. After hatching, C. elegans undergo a series of larval stage, called L1 – L4, before becoming adults.

Molt: the process of growing a new cuticle and shedding the old one. This defines the transition from one larval stage to another or to adulthood.