A simple method for maintaining large, aging populations of Caenorhabditis elegans

Mech Ageing Dev. 1980 Feb;12(2):137-50. doi: 10.1016/0047-6374(80)90090-1.


This paper describes a technique capable of establishing and maintaining large, age-synchronous populations of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The technique has three essential components: a rich chemical medium; a method for producing and harvesting mass quantities of eggs; and 5-fluorodeoxyuridine (FUdR), an inhibitor of DNA synthesis. A culture of worms is filtered through glass wool or a wire screen to isolate young larvae. Eggs laid by these worms after they mature are collected over a period of 4-6 hours and allowed to hatch. A low level of FUdR (25 microM) is added just before the larvae reach maturity. This timing is important to avoid developmental abnormalities. The adults lay eggs in the presence of FUdR but the eggs do not hatch, which maintains the synchrony of the culture. Many aging characteristics appear to be similar in treated and untreated worms, such as the time of cessation of egg production, the appearance of visible and behavioral age-related changes, and the mean lifespan. This system thus seems suitable for large-scale biochemical analysis of certain aspects of aging in C. elegans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis / embryology
  • Caenorhabditis / growth & development*
  • Culture Media
  • Female
  • Floxuridine / pharmacology
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Larva / isolation & purification
  • Methods
  • Ovum
  • Time Factors


  • Culture Media
  • Floxuridine