Hand Dissection of Caenorhabditis elegans Intestines

J Vis Exp. 2022 Sep 13;(187). doi: 10.3791/64120.


Comprised of only 20 cells, the Caenorhabditis elegans intestine is the nexus of many life-supporting functions, including digestion, metabolism, aging, immunity, and environmental response. Critical interactions between the C. elegans host and its environment converge within the intestine, where gut microbiota concentrate. Therefore, the ability to isolate intestine tissue away from the rest of the worm is necessary to assess intestine-specific processes. This protocol describes a method for hand dissecting adult C. elegans intestines. The procedure can be performed in fluorescently labeled strains for ease or training purposes. Once the technique is perfected, intestines can be collected from unlabeled worms of any genotype. This microdissection approach allows for the simultaneous capture of host intestinal tissue and gut microbiota, a benefit to many microbiome studies. As such, downstream applications for the intestinal preparations generated by this protocol can include but are not limited to RNA isolation from intestinal cells and DNA isolation from captured microbiota. Overall, hand dissection of C. elegans intestines affords a simple and robust method to investigate critical aspects of intestine biology.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins* / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Intestines / physiology
  • Intestines / surgery
  • Microbiota*
  • RNA


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • RNA