It’s a simple life being a nematode worm like the ones in this picture – you just wriggle around, eat, poop and lay eggs. But although these behaviours are quite basic, they’re still controlled by genes. Scientists know that egg-laying is controlled by a gene making a protein called serotonin, but it’s not clear which other genes and proteins work together to make eggs pop out correctly. Now the public can help researchers track down some of these vital genetic instructions, through an online game called Worm Watch Lab. Players will help analyse data hidden in more than 10,000 short videos of worms with various genetic faults. The idea is simple – you just watch the worm on the screen, then click when an egg appears. By getting more eyes on the worms, the scientists hope to scan through their data much faster, revealing more about the genes involved.
Written by Kat Arney
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.