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Efficient identification and cloning of single gene deletions in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

To create mutant strains of the Caenorhabditis elegan nematode by deleting, or knocking out, specific genes in its genome.

Project Leaders Don Moerman
Project Co-Investigators Stephane Flibotte, Robert Barstead
Involved Organizations
University of British Columbia
Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Funding Agencies
Genome Canada
Genome British Columbia



The small soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has one of the smallest genomes sequenced, and with less than a thousand somatic cells it is the simplest multicellular model organism. These features make the worm an ideal choice for studies on cell, tissue and organ function. Mutations within individual genes are powerful tools to study cell and tissue function within an organism since such mutations often offer insight into the function of a gene in various biological contexts. There are about 20,000 genes in the nematode and comparative sequence analysis of the human and C. elegans genomes reveals that these two widely divergent species have about 7,000 genes in common. In many cases these genes, when dysfunctional within humans, least to inherited diseases, susceptibility to cancers or other health related problems. Understanding the basic biological function of these genes in C. elegans could have direct consequences for medical diagnosis and treatment in humans. However, only about 15% of the nematode genes have mutations indicative of gene function.

Our goal is to provide 4,000 mutant strains of the C. elegan nematode by deleting, or knocking out, specific genes in its genome, providing a resource for the international research community, and continue to provide researchers around the world with deletion mutations in genes in the small soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

Nematode genes to be targeted will be chosen after consultation with the research community and our Scientific Advisory board. Our focus will be on –

  1. Nematode genes with human homologs, particularly those genes known to be associated with human disease, and those genes for which there is sequence homology but nothing is known about function in any system.

  1. Genes unique to nematodes. This group of genes offer the best potential targets for nematicides to protect human health and agricultural crops.

Contact Information

For all project related inquires please contact us.

Robyn Roscoe, Project Team Leader
Genome Sciences Centre, BC Cancer Agency
Phone: 604-707-5963 x 5436
Fax: 604-876-3561