A genetic pathway for dauer larva formation in caenorhabditis elegans : (nematode, development, neuron)
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C. elegans is a roundworm, a free-living soil nematode. The dauer larva is a non-feeding, non-growing larval stage which is formed under conditions of starvation. It possesses a relatively impermeable cuticle and differs from all other larval stages in behavior and morphology. Dauer larva formation is a "developmental switch" in the life cycle which offers special advantages for genetic study. A partial genetic pathway for dauer larva formation has been established. Genetic characterization of additional mutants should reveal more details of this pathway. One class of mutants already characterized exhibits morphological alterations in sensory neurons, as determined by electron microscopy. Such mutants are useful for the study of nerve morphogenesis.