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Worms’ Epigenetic Memories

When kept at warmer temperatures for five generations, C. elegans showed evidence of “remembering” that experience for up to 14 generations.

Catherine Offord
Catherine Offord

Catherine is a science journalist based in Barcelona.

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Researchers engineered C. elegans with multiple copies of a transgene called mCHERRY connected to a promoter for daf-21. When kept at 25 degrees, the worms began to fluoresce red and had progeny that showed similarly elevated expression of the transgenes, despite never having experienced the higher temperature—an effect that persisted for seven generations. When worms were kept at 25 degrees for five generations, the memory of the heatwave lasted longer, with expression levels taking as many as 14 generations to return to normal.

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