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Why Experiment with Caenorhabditis elegans?


Taylor Allen: Still Looking at Worms--with New NSF Grant to Fund His Research on Muscle Function
(Main Story)

Caenorhabditis elegans are ideally suited to genetic experimentation, Allen says, for three reasons:

  • Their entire genome (genetic pattern) has been sequenced (mapped out), so it is easy to identify sites of mutations;
  • They reproduce rapidly--in three or four days, so many generations of worms can be studied; and
  • They are small (thousands can fit in one petri dish).

Using many generations and thousands of animals in the experiment means the scientists are more likely to succeed in isolating rare mutations, which might only occur once in a million worms.

This photograph of c. elegans is from the web site Caenorhabditis elegans WWW Server.





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