Voelcker Academy

Research Symposium 2010

 

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Angelina Isibor

Nutritional Effects on the Longevity of Caenorhabditis elegans

Angelina Isibor

Mentor: Dr. Shane Rea

C. elegans is a soil nematode found around the world. It feeds on bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, and is a great model system for many areas in research, such as aging. C. elegans is anatomically simple: adults have 959 somatic cells2 and are translucent, making it easy to study their anatomy. C. elegans are small cylindrical worms that are perfect for aging studies due to their small size (~ 1mm) and short lifespan of 2-3 weeks. These worms are also easy to culture because they reach sexual maturity in about 3 days under optimal conditions2 and can be easily cultured in constant temperature incubators (16 - 25ºC). Their growth temperature range also means that the worms can be worked with on the bench. C. elegans also has had its entire genome sequenced and ~25% of the worms’ genes have human orthologs. C. elegans is unique in that it can be fed RNAi, controlling the worms’ gene expression. C. elegans research has had a significant impact on the field of aging: numerous single-gene mutations have been identified that increase C. elegans life span3 - such as daf-2 and clk-1. Through research on the worms, the Insulin/IGF-1 pathways, TOR pathways, AMP kinase, and Sirtuins, among others, were found to influence aging. The goals of this project are to (1) to understand whether nutrition has an effect on the longevity of C. elegans; (2) to determine whether specific E. coli genotypes can influence the lifespan of C. elegans; and (3) to translate what was learned into a biostatistical model and trace potential metabolic alterations responsible for lifespan alteration in C. elegans.