2013 Student Research Conference:
26th Annual Student Research Conference

Impact of alcohol on embryonic development in Caenorhabditis elegans
Bridget C. Waller* and Kassi L. Crocker
Dr. Timothy D. Walston, Faculty Mentor

The exact causes of most neural tube defects (NTDs) remain unknown. The disabling birth defect, spina bifida, may result from a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors, including alcohol consumption early in pregnancy. The processes of development in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans resemble morphogenetic cell movements occurring during vertebrate neural tube closure. The ease of embryonic study makes C. elegans a tractable model to understand the mechanisms that affect cell migration. The goal of this project is to establish C. elegans as a model for NTDs by studying the embryonic defects that result from alcohol exposure. In this experiment, C. elegans embryos were exposed in utero to 300 mM alcohol, equivalent to a BAC 0.075. Embryos were then observed using Differential Interference Contrast microscopy. Embryos exposed to alcohol experienced a lethality rate of 47.25% (n=3200 embryos) compared to <2% lethality in non-exposed embryos. Microscopic observations revealed cell migration defects during gastrulation, which led to the embryonic lethality.

Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans, neural tube defects, alcohol exposure, microscopy


Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 2-2
Location: GEO
Time: 3:30

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