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Cell Identification:

Complete Cell List of C. elegans

Nomarski Images for Learning the Anatomy by John Yochem

Part I - HEAD

Pharynx Atlas

Head Neurons:

Head Neuron Nuclei
  • Hermaphrodite Adult
  • Hermaphrodite Larva
  • Male
  • Part II - BODY

    Body Neurons:

  • Hermaphrodite Ventral Cord Motor Neurons I
  • Hermaphrodite Ventral Cord Motor Neurons II
  • Male Ventral Cord Neurons
  • Hermaphrodite and Male Mechanosensory Neurons
  • Part III - TAIL

    Tail Neurons:

  • Hermaphrodite Tail Neurons
  • Male Tail Neurons
  • Post Cloacal Sensilla and Spicule Nuclei - Rene Garcia
  • L4 and Adult Male Tail
  • Tail Non-neuronal Cells:

  • L4 Male Proctodeum and Muscles

  • Helpful Notes for Cell Identification by Nomarski Microscopy:

    Click image for closeup view Click pictures for new window with high resolution image
    Neuronal nuclei are rather small, round and have stippled appearance.

    Hypodermal and gut nuclei are large, have a "fried egg" appearance with large, prominent nucleoli.

    Muscle nuclei are oblong (ovoid), intermediate in size between neuronal and hypodermal nuclei, and have a small, spherical nucleolus. Their nucleoplasm is granular in L1 but becomes smooth in L2 and remains so throughout the rest of the development.

    Most cells are most easily seen in very young larvae; L1 stage is optimal for neuronal identifications. Pharyngeal nuclei are easier to see in the L2 stage. Some cells are difficult to identify depending on their cell positions because of natural variability in their location:

  • the posterior lateral ganglia of the head (AIN, RIC, AIZ, ADEso, AVD)
  • the anterior socket and sheath cells in the head (AMso, ILsh, ILso, OLQso)
  • postembryonic neurons in the tail
  • postembryonic neurons in VC

  • Ancillary Methods for Cell Identification:

    FITC staining , DiI staining, DiO staining, DAPI staining -->> See Anatomical Methods


    Hedgecock E. M. et al., 1985. Axonal guidance mutants of Caenorhabditis elegans identified by filling sensory neurons with fluorescein dyes.
    Dev. Biol. 111: 158-170.

    Bargmann C. I. and Avery L. 1995. Laser killing of cells in Caenorhabditis elegans. in Methods in Cell Biology Vol.48,
    (ed: Epstein H. F. and Shakes D. C), pp. 225-249. Academic Press, California

    Sulston J. and Hodgkin J. 1988. Methods in The Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. (ed: Wood W. B. and the community of C. elegans researchers),
    pp.587. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, New York