2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

Establishing Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model for Neural Tube Defects
Bridget C. Waller* and Kassi L. Crocker
Dr. Tim Walston, Faculty Mentor

The exact causes of most neural tube defects (NTDs) remain unknown. The disabling birth defect spina bifida, however, may result from a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors, including alcohol consumption early in pregnancy. Composed of only 40 cells, the transparent epidermis of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans displays similar cell movements to what is seen in the vertebrate neural tube. The ease of embryonic study makes C. elegans a tractable model to understand the mechanisms and environmental factors that affect cell migration. Therefore, the goal of this project is to establish C. elegans as a model for NTDs through studying the embryonic defects that result from alcohol exposure. In this experiment, the embryos of C. elegans mothers were analyzed for lethality due to in utero and embryonic alcohol exposure. Subsequently, embryos were examined using differential interference contrast and confocal microscopy to determine the stage of flawed development.

Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans, Neural tube defects, Alcohol exposure

Topic(s):Biology

Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 3-6
Location: Georgian Room - SUB
Time: 4:30

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