In C. elegans a rapid gene expression shift marks the switch from juvenile to reproducing worms. Measuring genome-wide gene expression patterns using a high resolution time series we found that over 10,000 genes change their expression during adolescence. These genes were clustered according to their expression profiles and studies for evolutionary traces of selection by sequence comparisons.
As gene expression profiles can become significantly different in as little as two hours. Small developmental differences can therefore have large effects, especially in gene expression studies. We used the transcription profiles of the high resolution times series to estimate the developmental age of worms grown on different food sources. We found that the food source has a large effect on developmental timing.
Together our findings improve our understanding of adolescent transition and help to eliminate experimental artifacts due to difference in developmental timing.