In order to get started, you’ll need some worms. The Caenorhabditis Genetics Center at the University of Minnesota is the primary repository for worm strains, both standard strains such as the N2 that most labs work from, and more specialized, mutant strains. They can also provide samples of E. coli OP50, the standard worm food (information about preparing these plates can be found in our section on the care and keeping of worms).

The CGC’s site, as well as information on how to order these strains, can be found here. There is a small fee for nonprofit organizations. If your university has any worm researchers, chances are they’ll be able to set you up with N2 and OP50 for free. A full list of the strains (warning—huge text file!) can be found here.


Cuticular Mutants

  • AT6: srf-2 mutant which responds to antibody staining.
  • AT10: srf-3 mutant which responds to antibody staining.
  • The BE family contains primarily roller and Dpy phenotypes obtained through mutations in rol, sqt, and dpy families. Some of these are temperature-sensitive. Includes some bli blistered worms.
  • MT1655, SP316: blistered cuticle in bli-6. Dominant (most BE blisters are recessive.)

Conditional Mutants

  • JH1288: Heat-sensitive, maintain at 15° C.
  • MT3454: Lethal above 20° C.
  • CB6208: Lethal below 18° C.
  • PH13: UV hypersensitive.
  • SP482: UV sensitive, not X-ray sensitive.
  • SP483: UV, X, gamma sensitive.
  • TK66: Life span shortened in high-oxygen environments (see paper). Also methylviologen (paraquat) resistant.
  • TK93: Methyviologen (paraquat) hypersensitive.
  • SS104: Worms raised at 25° C do not develop gonads and can’t reproduce; worms raised at 16° C do and can.


  • CB611 (originally E611): WormBook describes this as a vab-10 mutant, but the CGC lists it as an unc-23 mutant. Worms with this phenotype display a bent head and consistently spiral towards food sources because they always keep their heads oriented upward on the food gradient.
  • FK134, OH8, OH161: Cryophilic; always moves away from heat sources.
  • IK105, IK130, IK174: Thermophilic; always moves towards sources of heat.
  • TN110: Paralyzed at 30° C; able to move at lower temperatures.
  • HH53: Paralyzed at 11° C; able to move at 23° C.

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