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Mating at Advanced Age: How Old Nematodes Modulate Pheromone Production to Attract Young Males


Leighton, Daniel H. W. (2016) Mating at Advanced Age: How Old Nematodes Modulate Pheromone Production to Attract Young Males. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9RB72KK.


Nematodes have been studied for centuries in their roles as pathogens of humans, crops, and livestock. In more recent times, the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and its close relatives have been heavily studied as genetic and developmental model organisms. Despite the extent of research into nematode biology and lifestyle, relatively little is known about communication between nematodes. In the last decade, there has been a burst of research into identifying the pheromones secreted by nematodes, as well as determining their effect on other nematodes in the population.

The bulk of pheromone research has focused on the chemical identification of olfactory signals, and studying the behavioral and physiological responses of worms exposed to these signals. We report the discovery of a new C. elegans mating pheromone, and an attempt to dissect the pathway that regulates its production. Instead of studying what a worm “hears” when this signal is received, we hope to understand what the worm that produces the signal is trying to “say”.

We also review the existing literature on nematode mating pheromones, highlighting the most stunning recent discoveries, and point out several questionable claims frequently made by authors in the field.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Nematode, pheromone, elegans, mating
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Biology and Biological Engineering
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Sternberg, Paul W.
Thesis Committee:
  • Prober, David A. (chair)
  • Anderson, David J.
  • Hay, Bruce A.
  • Sternberg, Paul W.
Defense Date:21 April 2016
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Institutes of HealthT32GM07616
Howard Hughes Medical InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06062016-184616124
Persistent URL:
Leighton, Daniel H. W.0000-0002-1379-0078
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9850
Deposited By: Daniel Leighton
Deposited On:07 Jun 2016 19:05
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:13

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