Why do we call the WT strain N2?


I read somewhere that Brenner dug up elegans from his garden, called them N1 assuming they would be the WT strain. The strain he previously received that he called N2 had a ts mutation that made them more applicable to lab work.
–none of that may be true, but it is amusing–

I asked Jonathan Hodgkin about this. He says:

The N series (documented in one of Sydney’s notebooks, now archived
at Cold Spring Harbor) were simply a set of different hermaphrodite
nematodes, a few of which were isolated from
“compost heap, 7 Long Road” (the Brenner home, at the time)
but most of which were obtained from other labs.
N was for Nematode.

I think N1 is actually a Pristionchus species, which Sydney did
find in his compost heap. One of the graduate students here
recently isolated the same species (according to Ralf
Sommer) from a rotting quince, in Oxford. But as far as I
know C. elegans has never been isolated in Cambridge or Oxford,
or re-isolated in Bristol.

N2 does not carry a ts mutation, but does have at least one non-ts lab-derived mutation that makes it easier work with,
as has now been extensively documented.

N3, also obtained from another lab, was supposed to be Panagrellus
but turned out to be another C. elegans (see one of my papers).

Most of the other N strains are not Caenorhabditis, but N62,
for example, is the Bergerac strain of C. elegans, which,
like N2, had been kept the lab for a while.

I hope that helps.

Mary Ann

Thanks for the answer. Interesting!

By the way, what is ts mutation? Is it temperature sensitive?

Yes, ts is temperature sensitive.

Best wishes,

Mary Ann