Welcome to the C. elegans Lab Tutorial!

From viewing the video "A Nematode as a Model Organism," in addition to checking out the links mentioned in this page, you should be able to answer ALL of the following questions (highlighted in green) and gain a good introduction to the experimental organism C. elegans. You may find it helpful it to keep this page open continuously and access some links by opening a new browser.

(1) What is a nematode? (Describe in as much detail as possible, including the basic adult anatomy.)

(2) What is the "C" in C. elegans an abbreviation for?

(3) Why study C. elegans ? (Why is it a good model organism?)

(4) Who founded the field (who first chose C. elegans as a model for the study of developmenta and certain aspects of cell behavior)?

(5) How do we culture C. elegans ?

There will be a special prize given to the team that comes up with the TOP 10 BEST REASONS for studying C. elegans !

You might want to begin your tour by visiting the Riddle Lab and seeing what they have to say about why they study "the worm."

Literature Search

Next, go to the C. elegans WWW server. This site has background information on worm biology and links to all of the databases that are useful to worm researchers, including links to the Worm Genome Project and a Methods section, describing many laboratory protocols for the culturing and analysis of nematodes. You will find the Literature database of most use to you in this course. Go to the Literature Search page and type in "programmed cell death"; leave all other parameters on default and hit the Search button. How many citations does it return?

Now, redo the search with the term "programmed cell death" as an exact phrase by clicking on the box in front of this parameter. Leave all other parameters on default. How many citations do you get?

Redo the search with the exact phrase "programmed cell death" and confine the search to just published papers by clicking on the box in front of "published books and papers only." How many citations do you get?

Do a separate search to see how many publications Bob Horvitz has co-authored and that are listed in the worm literature database. How best to do this search? How many citations do you get?

This Literature Search will return more citations than a Medline search because the database contains a lot of UNPUBLISHED information. The "worm community" of researchers are well known for sharing the results of their work quickly with others in the community, long before all the data have been collected and the papers published in formal scientific journals. When citing sources from the server's Literature pages that are abstracts from meetings or the "Worm Breeder's Gazette", you must refer to these sources by giving the authors names followed by "unpublished data" or "personal communication".

Lab and Techniques Search

Go back to the main server site. Click on Labs. Find the Horvitz Lab and head to that lab's website. Which University houses the Horvitz Lab?
What does the Horvitz Lab work on (what area of research do they focus on)?
In which journals do they publish their work?

Check out some of the Horvitz Lab links.
What is ced-3?
What is its function?

When did Horvitz win the Nobel Prize? Who were the other two researchers who shared the Nobel with him? For what discovery did they win the Prize?

OK-- head back to the worm server's home site. Now go to the Methods section. Choose C. elegans protocols and then under these protocols check out some of the staining protocols. You can compare the Ruvkun "Antibody Staining" to the protocol you will actually use after Spring Break. You can also check out "Phalloidin Staining", a protocol we will be using after Spring Break as well.
What does phalloidin stain?

Now you've finished your world wind tour of the wonderful worm world! Or, if you want, you can continue digging on your own (or with your lab partners)...