JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Petri dish containing a culture of Caenorhabditis elegans a soil-dwelling bisexual nematode worm which feeds on bacteria. This multicellular animal is an ideal subject for genetic research. It is less than a millimetre long and thin enough as to be almost completely transparent (facilitating study of its internal organs). It takes only three days to reach maturity and usually reproduces by self-fertilization (resulting in offspring which are all identical to the parent). A large colony will thrive on a culture plate, provided that they have enough bacteria to eat, and if frozen in liquid nitrogen will remain viable for up to 18 years.
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