Caenorhabditis elegans: An emerging model in biomedical and environmental toxicology

Maxwell C.K. Leung, Phillip L. Williams, Alexandre Benedetto, Catherine Au, Kirsten J. Helmcke, Michael Aschner, Joel N. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

811 Scopus citations


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has emerged as an important animal model in various fields including neurobiology, developmental biology, and genetics. Characteristics of this animal model that have contributed to its success include its genetic manipulability, invariant and fully described developmental program, well-characterized genome, ease of maintenance, short and prolific life cycle, and small body size. These same features have led to an increasing use of C. elegans in toxicology, both for mechanistic studies and high-throughput screening approaches. We describe some of the research that has been carried out in the areas of neurotoxicology, genetic toxicology, and environmental toxicology, as well as high-throughput experiments with C. elegans including genome-wide screening for molecular targets of toxicity and rapid toxicity assessment for new chemicals. We argue for an increased role for C. elegans in complementing other model systems in toxicological research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-28
Number of pages24
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Environmental toxicology
  • Genotoxicity
  • High-throughput methods
  • Neurotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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