Saturday, May 12, 2007

Elegant Worms

I remember hardly anything about my biology laboratories in college. I know there was a lab with cockroaches that gave me nightmares, and one where we drank a liter of soda and peed in cups for a couple hours, but other than that I basically draw a blank. Until....

Somehow I stumbled across a report of 2006's Nobel Prize Winners a few weeks ago. C. elegans was mentioned. "C. elegans??" I said, feeling old academic thoughts shaking off dust. "I know that name."

Then it all came back at once. Worms. Little petri dishes of worms. Reproducing hemaphroditic worms. Watching their little spawning babies. Following the genetic traits. There were dumpy worms (DUMPY) who were short and fat. There were uncoordinated worms (UNC) who couldn't really move. There were little worms who glowed in the dark (GLO). And some worms were both DUMPY and UNC. Poor little worms.

A little refresher course courtesy of wikipedia reveals that C. elegans is no mere worm. Nobel prizes in 2002 and 2006 and survived the Columbia disaster?? That's more than you can say for a wimpy Drosophilia.


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