Worm Breeder's Gazette 15(3): 15 (June 1, 1998)

These abstracts should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.

A sordid collection of sorted worms

Nora Eakin, David Fitch

Department of Biology, New York University, Room 1009 Main Building, 100 Washington Square East, New York, NY 10003

We have started a simple, web-based database for strains of nematodes maintained in a number of different laboratories as well as at the CGC. It can be reached via Leon Avery's C. elegans WWW Server (via the link to Other nematodes) or directly at:


Called the Worm Systematics Resource Network (WSRN), the original aim of the database was (still is) to organize the many non-C. elegans strains that are being passed among different labs. The aim is to make sure that each strain has a unique designation that is used uniquely, such that any strain can be unambiguously identified whenever it is used as a source of material in a published work. Just as such strain identification is used for genetics studies in C. elegans, such a system ensures consistency and allows easy cross-referencing among different comparative studies employing these strains.

The need for such a database is especially demonstrated by the 415 strain designations that have been variously used for the 261 strains listed in the database, an average redundancy of 59%. The primary function of the database is thus to be a synonymy for strain identifiers and to propose a unique, senior identifier for each of these strains. To minimize confusion, and to maximize consistency, only the senior designations (not their synonyms) should be used whenever the strains are passed from lab to lab or reported as material in the literature. The web link to Important notes and acknowledgements should be accessed for more details. The database can be searched WAIS-style by typing any kind of keyword in the blank provided on the home page (e.g., strain or synonym designation, species name, lab name or designation, etc.).

The WSRN is not yet a complete database for species nomenclature, and (despite how its name may be perceived) was not originally set up to be one. Because of the small flood of queries we have received about species names, however, we are working on an upgrade that will provide that kind of information (along with a taxonomy synonomy that will be as complete as possible). In the meantime, please feel free to contact us directly about nomenclatural questions (the Important notes and acknowledgements link can also be consulted about relevant conventions). Just be advised that some of the species binomens (Genus species names) used in this database are not (yet) officially recognized. Because inferences about phylogenetic relationships can change as more and more data accumulate, this taxonomy is going to be in a fluid state for some time. It is also for this reason that it is essential to maintain unique, constant identifiers for strains whose binomens or other taxonomies are likely to change.

We have also tried to include datalinks to other important resources on each strain page. For example, many of the strains have molecular ID tags that have been obtained by Kelley Thomas' lab. SEM portraits have been taken of some of the more other-worldly strains by Paul De Ley. These links are maintained directly by those labs, so you can be assured of their scientific accuracy. We welcome suggestions for other such links and indeed any comments you may have for making this service more useful, accurate or friendly. Many thanks to all our contributors!