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The Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans: a Convenient Model for Studying Immunology and Microbiology

 by William Zhao, Shrey Shah, Scott Davis, David Ojcius and Hung-Chi Yang. 

Caenorhabditis elegans is a nematode that survives naturally in a variety of environments throughout the world. This nematode has been used for decades as a model system for development, cancer and aging, since it shares with humans key genes and signaling pathways that are involved in disease. In addition, this nematode is easy to maintain in the laboratory and is genetically tractable. Major discoveries relevant for human cancer, innate immunity and longevity have been made with C. elegans, but this nematode has not been used yet for studying genes or microbiota relevant for oral health. Several laboratories in the world are starting to study the effect of the gut microbiota on the health of C. elegans. We propose to study the effect of the oral microbiota on C. elegans, by feeding the nematodes bacteria isolated from human saliva. From a dentistry perspective, being able to characterize the human oral microbiota with data analyzed from C. elegans can provide a convenient approach to screen rapidly effects of different oral bacteria and could provide a fresh outlook on several oral diseases.

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