Caenorhabditis elegans (worms)

Worms can be used to understand biological processes in humans. Despite being small, worms share several features with people:

  • Like people, worms have muscles, nerves, a gut and a circulatory system

  • Worms also convert food to energy, like us. When people are hungry we walk to the shops for food - worms also purposefully move towards food

  • Many molecular and metabolic processes that are key to health in humans also work similarly in worms

  • Humans have ~25,000 genes and worms have ~19,000 genes

  • Up to 80% of genes in worms are similar to human genes

Experiments on Earth using C. elegans have led to important discoveries and Nobel Prize awards

Here are some C. elegans facts - match the missing words to the facts:

  • C. elegans are small, transparent multicellular organisms

  • Adult C. elegans are approximately     in length

  • They have two sexes: males and self-fertilising hermaphrodites

  • One hermaphrodite can produce           offspring

  • C. elegans have short life cycles: it takes          for an egg to reach adulthood

  • C. elegans live for

2-3 weeks

1 mm


2-3 days