How a worm helped explain human development

Witness History

By BBC World Service

How a worm helped explain human development

Tuesday, 13 April

After the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA in the 1950s, South African biologist Sydney Brenner was searching for a model animal to help him tease out the genes involved in human behaviour and human development from egg to adult. Brenner chose a tiny nematode worm called caenorhabditis elegans (c.elegans for short), whose biological clockwork can be observed in real time under a microscope through its transparent skin. The worm has since been at the heart of all sorts of discoveries about how our bodies work and fail. Sue Armstrong has been speaking to people who knew and worked with Sydney Brenner. This programme is a Ruth Evans Production. Photo: the c. elegans worm. Credit: Science Photo Library
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