Our laboratory is interested in the systems biology of nematodes. We seek to understand how the properties of an organism are encoded in its genome.

We seek to understand how are the properties of an organism – its development, physiology and behavior – are encoded in its genome. We primarily use molecular genetics of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans but also apply proteomics, computational biology, biochemistry, cell biology, imaging, behavioral analysis, optogenetics, synthetic biology to not only C. elegans but also parasitic nematodes, budding yeast, mice, jellyfish, fungi, and human cells as needed.

Specific areas of current interest are:

  • How does the 302-neuron worm brain assess the future environment based on computation of sensory and physiological inputs?
  • Does the male worm have a neural representation of its mating partner?
  • How can we best predict gene expression from DNA sequence?
  • What are the functional consequences of de novo genetic variants found in individual with autism spectrum disorder?
  • What changes in the nervous system occur during sleep?
  • How do cells migrate accurately during development?

Our major strategy is to perturb the activity of one or more genes and measure how cells or animals misbehave to infer gene function and genetic pathways. We measure gene expression by RNA-seq and transgenic reporters; we measure behavior using automated systems and optogenetics. We focus on intercellular signals and their transduction by the responding cell into transcriptional outputs. Many of the genes we have identified are the nematode counterparts of human genes, and we are leveraging C. elegansmolecular genetics to study human genes with no actionable information and of the consequence of variants found in human individuals, including those with autism spectrum disorder. Nematodes are major health and agricultural problems, so we focus on parasite relevant biology such as dauer/infective juvenile development, using genomics and molecular genetics.

Adler R Dillman. (2021). Movie: Dillman_Scarpocapsae_Jumping1 (Version 1.0). CaltechDATA.

Lab News

Could a "Dune" Sandworm Exist in Real Life??? Find out now.

We are excited to announce that David Aguirre has joined our lab. He is a biology graduate student here at Caltech.

We're happy to announce that Nicholas Markarian, an MD PhD student has joined our lab.

We're excited to welcome the arrival of Fullbright Scholar Chandrika Konwar. She is graduate student from the University of Delhi.

Worm moving

  1. Davis P, Zarowiecki M, Arnaboldi V, Becerra A, Cain S, Chan J, Chen WJ, Coh J, da Veiga Beltrame E, Diamantakis S, Gao S, Grigoriadis D, Grove CA, Harris TW, Kishore R, Le T, Lee RYN, Luypaert M, Müller HM, Nakamura C, Nuin P, Paulini M, Quinton-Tulloch M, Raciti D, Rodgers FH, Russell M, Schindelman G, Singh A, Stickland T, Van Auken K, Wang Q, Williams G, Wright AJ, Yook K, Berriman M, Howe KL, Schedl T, Stein L, Sternberg PW. (2022). WormBase in 2022 - data, processes, and tools for analyzing Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics. https://doi.org/10.1093/genetics/iyac003. PMCID: PMC8982018.
  2. Cohen SM, Wrobel CJJ, Prakash SJ, Schroeder FC, Sternberg PW. (2022). Formation and function of dauer ascarosides in the nematodes Caenorhabditis brigsae and Caenorhabditis elegans. G3. https://doi/org/10.1093/g3journal.jkac014. PMCID: PMC8895998.
  3. Shinoda K, Choe A, Hirahara K, Kiuchi M, Kokubo K, Ichikawa T, Hoki JS, Suzuki AS, Bose N, Appleton JA, Aroian RV, Schroeder FC, Sternberg PW, Nakayama T. 2022. Nematode ascarosides attenuate mammalian type 2 inflammatory responses. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 119(9), e2108686119. PMCID: PMC8892368.
  4. da Viega Beltrame E, Arnaboldi V, Sternberg PW. (2022). Single cell tools for WormBase. Bioinform Adv. 2(1):vbac018. PMCID: PMC9258504.
  5. Chai CM, Park H, Sternberg PW. (2022). Brain-wide bidirectional neuropeptide modulation of individual neuron classes regulates a developmental decision. Curr Biol. 32(15), 3365-3373.e6.
  6. Wood V, Sternberg PW, Lipshitz HD. (2022) Making biological knowledge useful for humans and machines. Genetics. 220(4):iyac001. PMCID: PMC8982017.
  7. Shinya R, Sun S, Dayi M, Tsai IJ, Miyama A, Chen AF, Hasegawa K, Antoshechkin I, Kikuchi T, Sternberg PW. (2022). Possible stochastic sex determination in Bursaphelenchus nematodes. Nat Commun. 13(1):2574. PMCID: PMC9095866.
  8. Jhaveri N, van den Berg W, Hwang BJ, Muller HM, Sternberg PW, Gupta BP. (2022). Genome annotation of Caenorhabditis briggsae by TEC-RED identifies new exons, paralogs, and conserved and novel operons. G3 (Bethesda). 12(7):jkac101. PMCID: PMC9258526.
  9. Chai CM, Torkashvand M, Seyedolmohadesin M, Park H, Venkatachalam V, Sternberg PW. (2022). Interneuron control of C. elegans developmental decision-making. Curr Biol. 32(10):2316-2324.e4. PMCID: PMC9270850.
  10. Alliance of Genome Resources Consortium. (2022). Harmonizing model organism data in the Alliance of Genome Resources. Genetics. 4;220(4):iyac022. PMCID: PMC8982023.
  11. Brugman KI, Susoy V, Whittaker AJ, Palma W, Nava S, Samuel ADT, Sternberg PW. (2022) PEZO-1 and TRP-4 mechanosensors are involved in mating behavior in Caenorhabditis elegans. bioRXiv doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.08.31.506045.

  1. Garg P, Tan CH, Sternberg PW. 2022. Dil staining of sensory neurons in entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema hermaphroditum. microPublication Biology. 10.17912/micropub.biology.000516.
  2. Tan CH, Park H, Sternberg PW. 2022. Loss of famh-136/ FAM136A results in minor locomotion and behavioral changes in Caenorhabditis elegans. microPublication Biology. doi: 10.17912/micropub.biology.000553.