Embryonic Cell Lineages and Segregation of Developmental Potential in Caenorhabditis elegans

  • G. v. Ehrenstein
  • J. E. Sulston
  • E. Schierenberg
  • J. S. Laufer
  • T. Cole
Conference paper


Embryogenesis of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is determinate and virtually invariant from individual to individual. The fertilized egg develops into an anatomically relatively simple juvenile animal having a constant number of only 550 cells (or nuclei) at hatching. The complete embryonic cell lineage up to the 220-cell stage has been described previously, and some lineages have been followed considerably further (Deppe etal. 1978; Krieg etal. 1978; Schierenberg 1978; von Ehrenstein and Schierenberg 1980). During postembryonic development, the cell number increases to about 950 in mature hermaphrodites (including the 143 of the somatic gonad structures) and to about 1025 in males. These cells arise from about 50 blast cells which resume division after hatching. The lineages of all of these cells have been described (Sulston 1976; Sulston and Horvitz 1977; Kimble and Hirsh 1979; Sulston et al. 1980).


Caenorhabditis Elegans Blast Cell Yolk Granule Embryonic Cell Lineage Laser Microbeam 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. v. Ehrenstein
    • 1
  • J. E. Sulston
    • 2
  • E. Schierenberg
    • 1
  • J. S. Laufer
    • 1
  • T. Cole
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular BiologyMax-Planck-Institute for Experimental MedicineGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.MRC Laboratory of Molecular BiologyCambridgeEngland

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