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Pristionchus pacificus: a satellite organism in evolutionary developmental biology

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For more content, see Nematologica.

Pristionchus pacificus has been described as a satellite organism, for functional comparative studies with Caenorhabditis elegans. Like C. elegans, P. pacificus is also easily cultured in the laboratory on a lawn of E. coli bacteria. P. pacificus is a hermaphroditic species with a 4-day life cycle, but unlike most nematodes which pass through four juvenile stages during their development, P. pacificus has only three juvenile stages. The combination of genetic, molecular and cell-biological studies have made P. pacificus a model system in the new field of evolutionary developmental biology. One process that has been studied in detail is the development of the vulva. Genetic and molecular studies revealed that the function of several genes involved in vulva development differs between P. pacificus and C. elegans. Here, we review our genetic and molecular studies of P. pacificus. We show that P. pacificus is well-suited as a satellite organism not only for understanding the cellular and genetic aspects of evolutionary change, but also for addressing questions of molecular evolution at the genomic level.

Pristionchus pacificus wurde vor mehrerern Jahren als “Satelitten-Organism” für funktionelle-vergleichende Studien mit dem Modellorganismus C. elegans beschrieben. P. pacificus ist eine hermaphroditische Art mit einer Generationszeit von 4 Tagen und kann auf E. coli gezüchtet werden. Die Analyse des Lebenszyklus hat gezeigt dass diese Art im Gegensatz zu den meisten Nematoden nur drei Juvenilstadien durchläuft. Da in P. pacificus genetische, molekular-biologische und zelluläre Methoden in ähnlicher Weise zum Einsatz kommen können wie in C. elegans, ist diese Art ein ideales Modellsystem für evolutionäre entwicklungsbiologische Fragestellungen. Ein besonders detailliert analysierter Entwicklungsprozess ist die Bildung der Vulva. Genetische und molekulare Arbeiten haben gezeigt dass einige in beiden Arten an der Vulva-Bildung beteiligte homologen Gene, sich in ihrer detaillierten Funktion deutlich voneinander unterscheiden. Die vorliegende Arbeit gibt einen Überblick über die genetischen und molekularen Aspekte der Vulva-Entwicklung in P. pacificus und zeigt die Potenzen der Art auch für zukünftige molekulare und genomische Untersuchungen.


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