Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Long Division

Award-winning image of worm cell division

05 August 2018

Long Division

Caenorhabditis elegans worms are often used as a model for studying biological processes that occur in humans – like cell division. They’re usually hermaphrodites, meaning they’re able to produce both eggs and sperm, which self-fertilise. For organisms to produce eggs and sperm, cells known as germline cells divide by meiosis, a type of cell division unique to germline cells. The sex cells produced each contain half the number of chromosomes found in all other cells, the full complement is restored in the embryo created by fertilisation. Each blue glowing sphere you see is the fluorescently-labelled chromosomes of a germline cell in C. elegans undergoing meiosis. Following their fate allows scientists to better understand how genes are passed from parent to offspring. Problems with meiosis in human reproduction can cause severe birth defects and miscarriage, so understanding meiosis in worms may be the first step towards finding a solution.

This image won the judges choice award at The Art of Research 2018 scientific image competition hosted by Imperial Innovations

Written by Ellie McLaughlin

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