Caenorhabditis elegans is a free-living, transparent nematode (roundworm), about 1 mm in length, which lives in temperate soil environments.
One might wonder why researchers would even care about the nuances of the one-millimeter long nematode worm, let alone take the time to study them. But the answer is simple: they can provide powerful insights into human health and disease.
Our ability to detect heat, touch, tickling and other sensations depends on our sensory nerves. Now, for the first time, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have identified a gene that orchestrates the crucially important branching of nerve fibers that occurs during development. The findings were published online today in the journal Cell.
Who would not want to live a long and healthy life? A freely available food supplement could help in this respect, scientists from ETH Zurich have demonstrated in roundworms. Vitamin B3 - also known as niacin - and its metabolite nicotinamide in the worms' diet caused them to live for about one tenth longer than usual.
A major aim of today's neuroscience is to understand how an organism's nervous system processes sensory input and generates behavior. To achieve this goal, scientists must obtain detailed maps of how the nerve cells are wired up in the brain, as well as information on how these networks interact in real time.
Biologists at the University of Fribourg have been looking at a threadworm gene which also occurs in humans. This gene could be central to a genetic system which is responsible for development, reproduction and the ageing process.
The human brain has 100 billion neurons, connected to each other in networks that allow us to interpret the world around us, plan for the future, and control our actions and movements. MIT neuroscientist Sebastian Seung wants to map those networks, creating a wiring diagram of the brain that could help scientists learn how we each become our unique selves.
Six graduate students and one undergraduate were named as recipients of Genetics Society of America poster awards at the 19th International C. elegans Meeting, held June 26 on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles.
The idea that worms can be seen as waveforms allowed scientists at Rice University to find new links in gene networks that control movement.
Mathematicians from Queen Mary, University of London will bring researchers one-step closer to understanding how the structure of the brain relates to its function in two recently published studies.
Researchers in the group of Ralf Sommer at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tuebingen, Germany, have for the first time been able to identify neuronal correlates of behaviour by comparing maps of synaptic connectivity, or "connectomes", between two species with different behaviour.
The gonad is well known to be important for reproduction but also affects animal life span. Removal of germ cells - the sperm and egg producing cells - increases longevity of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms were a mystery. Now scientists at the Cologne-based Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, have discovered that germ cell removal flips a "molecular switch" that extends the life span by using components of a "developmental clock".
Listed below are the selected highlights for the December 2012 issue of the Genetics Society of America's journal, Genetics.
In the quest to understand how the brain turns sensory input into behavior, Harvard scientists have crossed a major threshold. Using precisely-targeted lasers, researchers have been able to take over an animal's brain, instruct it to turn in any direction they choose, and even to implant false sensory information, fooling the animal into thinking food was nearby.
At any given moment, millions of cells are on the move in the human body, typically on their way to aid in immune response, make repairs, or provide some other benefit to the structures around them. When the migration process goes wrong, however, the results can include tumor formation and metastatic cancer. Little has been known about how cell migration actually works, but now, with the help of some tiny worms, researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have gained new insight into this highly complex task.
Research into the genetic factors behind certain disease mechanisms, illness progression and response to new drugs is frequently carried out using tiny multi-cellular animals such as nematodes, fruit flies or zebra fish.
Through novel experiments involving small nematode worms, scientists from Wyoming have discovered several genes that may be potential targets for drug development in the ongoing war against cancer. Specifically, researchers hypothesize that inhibiting these genes could reverse certain key traits associated with cancer cells.
The effect of spaceflight on a microscopic worm - Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) - could help it to live longer.
A new spin to our understanding of the relationship between Alzheimer's disease and diabetes, which could point to a therapeutic target for both diseases, is published in a research report in the June 2012 issue of the journal Genetics.
In recent years it became clear that people with diabetes face an ominous prospect - a far greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Now researchers at The City College of New York (CCNY) have shed light on one reason why. Biology Professor Chris Li and her colleagues have discovered that a single gene forms a common link between the two diseases.
Ten young researchers were named Pew Latin American Fellows in the Biomedical Sciences today by The Pew Charitable Trusts. For these scientists, who have dedicated their careers to finding solutions for some of the world's most troubling health problems, this fellowship will provide support that will further their research, enable them to work with colleagues in the United States, and increase scientific knowledge throughout their home region.