newsDevelopmental Biology

Divide and Confer: How Worm Embryo Cells Specialize

Science  28 Jun 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5270, pp. 1871
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5270.1871


Nashville, Tennessee—The animal embryo faces a daunting task as it implements the architectural plans, inscribed in its DNA, for building a complex, multicelled body from the original single-celled zygote. Only for the fruit fly do researchers have a good idea of how early embryonic cells get the marching orders that tell them what cells and tissues they will eventually produce. But at the national meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology here 3 weeks ago, researchers presented a recent flurry of new results on the tiny worm Caenorhabditis elegans. The new insights they provide into how early developmental fate decisions are made in this organism led one researcher to comment that “C. elegans is entering the heyday that Drosophila entered years ago.”