65 S. Sandusky St.
Delaware, OH 43015
David Markwardt, Associate Dean of the OWU Connection
Project Title: Further Investigation of a Novel Rhabditid Nematode
Mentor: Danielle Hamill
Nematodes are among the most numerous and widespread animals on earth. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a well-established model organism used for a wide-variety of studies ranging from biomedical to behavioral to ecological, and more. While C. elegans is well characterized, there are thousands of different species of nematodes, many of which have not been studied. We are characterizing several Rhabditid nematodes isolated in association with millipedes from both Ohio and Florida. Sequence analysis of rDNA genes supports that one of the species of worms we isolated is Oscheius myriophila. Other worms we isolated are similar, but we believe may be a distinct species that for now we are calling Rhabditis sp. We are using a combination of molecular, phenotypic, and genetic approaches to characterize these worms and to establish if they represent a previously undescribed species. One of our primary approaches is to use scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to visualize key structural features. We developed a method for SEM and have gotten detailed images to compare C. elegans to O. myriophila to our Rhabditis sp. worms. We are also using light microscopy to capture images and do measurements critical for species identification. Finally, we are conducting crosses. Previous work in the lab has resulted in conflicting evidence about whether O. myriophila and Rhabditis sp. can produce normal offspring, so we are extending these studies. Together with examining embryonic development in these worms, we believe our studies will help us to better understand this diverse phylum of animals.