UMMS Affiliation

Department of Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology

Publication Date


Document Type



Cell Biology | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Developmental Biology | Genetics | Molecular Genetics


Over a century ago, the zoologist Emile Maupas first identified the nematode, Rhabditis elegans, in the soil in Algiers. Subsequent work and phylogenic studies renamed the species Caenorhabditis elegans or more commonly referred to as C. elegans; (Caeno meaning recent; rhabditis meaning rod; elegans meaning nice). However, it was not until 1963, when Sydney Brenner, already successful from his work on DNA, RNA, and the genetic code, suggested the future of biological research lay in model organisms. Brenner believed that biological research required a model system that could grow in vast quantities in the lab, were cheap to maintain and had a simple body plan, and he chose the nematode C. elegans to fulfill such a role. Since that time, C. elegans has emerged as one of the premiere model systems for aging research. This paper reviews some initial identification of mutants with altered lifespan with a focus on genetics and then discusses advantages and disadvantages for using C. elegans as a model system to understand human aging. This review focuses on molecular genetics aspects of this model organism.


C. elegans, aging, dauer, insulin/IGF-1, longevity

Rights and Permissions

Copyright © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an Open Access article. Non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly attributed, cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way, is permitted. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.

DOI of Published Version



Invertebr Reprod Dev. 2015 Jan 30;59(sup1):59-63. Epub 2014 Dec 9. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Invertebrate reproduction and development

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID