By Anne Carlijn Kok
hese are Christian Riedel’s worms. He’s a biologist and leads one of the ERIBA research teams. He examines ageing mechanisms by using these special C. elegans worms.
These nematodes are about one millimetre long, live in the soil rather than in a petri dish and are colourless instead of green. ‘The green comes from fluorescent protein, which is used to visualize the absence of insulin’, Riedel says.
The greater the lack of food, the less insulin there is and the greener the worms are. ‘With this additional benefit they age slower and live longer. The normal lifespan of a C. elegans worm is about 20 days, but my worms live for around 60 days.’