Scientific internship: Exploring transgenerational inheritance in C.elegans worms using quantitative microscopy

Date posted January 22, 2019
Type Scientific Internships

This project explores to what extend gene expression in C. elegans worms is affected by environmental conditions experienced by previous generations.

The phenotype of an organism is not only determined by its genotype, but also often by its environment. In particular, genetically identical individuals can show changes in gene expression and, as a result, in phenotype, depending on environmental conditions. Moreover, the environment can also impact gene expression in the subsequent generations, a phenomenon called transgenerational inheritance. For this project, we will study the origin of variability in gene expression and transgenerational inheritance, using the nematode worm C. elegans as a model organism.

C. elegans worms show highly stereotypical development, reproduce as genetically identical clones and can be grown under highly controlled environmental conditions. This makes it uniquely suitable to search for the origin of gene expression variability, by comparing genetically identical individuals that share a highly similar life-history.

In this project, you will analyze the expression of a previously identified group of genes, that shown variable gene expression and which are likely affected by the abundance of food experienced by previous generations. You will combine a novel imaging technique, called single molecule FISH, with fluorescence microscopy and quantitative data analysis to count individual mRNA molecules of key variable genes inside single worms. In addition, you will explore how food availability affects (variability in) gene expression and whether information on food abundance in the environment is passed on to future generations.

About the group

Quantitative Developmental Biology


You have a BSc in Biology, Chemistry or a closely-related degree. Lab experience in a ML-1 lab is preferred. The internship must be a mandatory part of your curriculum. You have a nationality of an EU-member state and/or you are a student at a Netherlands University. You must be available for at least 4 months.

Terms of employment

At the start of the traineeship your trainee plan will be set out, in consultation with your AMOLF supervisor.

Contact info

Dr. J.S. van Zon
Group leader Quantitative Developmental Biology
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

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