Indexed on: 01 Dec '07Published on: 01 Dec '07Published in: WormBook : the online review of C. elegans biology
The knowledge about C. elegans provides a paradigm for comparative studies. Nematodes are very attractive in evolutionary developmental biology given the species richness of the phylum and the easiness with which several of these species can be cultured under laboratory conditions. Embryonic, gonad, vulva and male tail development were studied and compared in nematodes of five different families, providing a detailed picture of evolutionary changes in development. In particular, vulva development has been studied in great detail and substantial differences in the cellular, genetic and molecular mechanisms have been observed between C. elegans and other nematodes. For example, vulva induction relies on the single anchor cell in C. elegans, whereas a variety of different cellular mechanisms are used in related species. In recent years, a few species have been developed as satellite systems for detailed genetic and molecular studies, such as Oscheius tipulae and Pristionchus pacificus.