How does it glow?
Green fluorescent protein, introduced into its DNA (2005)
What can we learn?
In 2005 University of Utah biologists wanted to study worm
rhythm. They isolated a gene they believed to control swallowing, egg laying, and pooping.
To test their hypothesis, the team tagged the gene with green fluorescent
protein in a worm. Sure enough, the throat, intestines, and gonads of the animal
all glowed green (pictured at right).
To double-check, the team disabled the gene in another worm. That gave them a worm that
could not swallow (left), which died at a small size because it could
The experiment may sound esoteric, but humans have rhythmic activities--swallowing,
ovulating, giving birth, defecating--controlled by a similar gene, so the glowing
worm could lead to solutions for a variety of ailments.
Photograph courtesy Ken Norman, University of Utah