Title Thesis: Building towards a multi-dimensional genetic architecture in Caenorhabditis elegans
In his thesis, ‘Building towards a multi-dimensional genetic architecture in Caenorhabditis elegans’, Mark Sterken uses the nematode (roundworm) Caenorhabditis elegans to understand how genetic differences between individuals of the same species (genetic variation) affect their traits. C.elegans is one of the simplest animals available to molecular biologists. In order to carry out his research, Mark Sterken created crossed populations of this roundworm. These were used in controlled environments to measure the influence of infection with the natural pathogen Orsay virus, the influence of heat-stress, and the extent of genetic interactions in C. elegans. Hereby especially the effects on gene expression (the first step towards constructing a protein) were investigated.
This thesis shows that the interaction between environment and genetic variation is strong, and that gene expression can be used to identify genetic causes of this effect. Furthermore, genetic interactions were found to be extensive and sometimes causing unexpected effects. With his work, Mark Sterken provides insights and novel populations to study such interaction in even more detail.