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Roundworm: Caenorhabditis elegans - Useful Characteristics, Insights From Laboratory Observation

developmental model system biology

Caenorhabditis elegans is a nonparasitic nematode that normally lives in the soil. Although studied since the 1800s, the modern use of C. elegans as a model system dates to the mid-1960s. By the start of that decade, scientists thought that the "classical" problems in molecular biology were about to be solved. They began to search for a model system that would support the new challenges presented by research on multicellular organisms, particularly in developmental biology and neurology. In 1965 Sydney Brenner proposed what he thought was the ideal model organism, one that provided the best compromise between biological complexity and ease of manipulation: C. elegans.

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