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Model Organisms

Useful Traits And Attributes

Most model organisms share a set of common features that make them amenable to study in the laboratory: They are generally small, easy, and inexpensive to rear in the lab, and reproduce quickly and prodigiously. In addition, the best genetic model organisms have small genome sizes, and many can reproduce sexually, allowing researchers to cross-breed individuals of different genotypes.

Beyond these common traits, most model organisms have one or several unique attributes that make them ideal for a particular line of research. For instance, zebrafish readily produce many large, transparent embryos, and are therefore a favorite research subject for developmental biologists. The roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans, has a simple but nonetheless sophisticated nervous system, and displays simple behaviors, such as movement, feeding, and mating. These properties make it well suited for neurobiology and behavioral genetics.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 3Model Organisms - Useful Traits And Attributes, The Model Mouse