Ecdysteroids in Axenically Propagated Caenorhabditis elegans and Culture Medium


  • D. J. Chitwood
  • M. F. Feldlaufer


Ecdysteroids (insect molting hormones) from Caenorhabditis elegans were chromatographically purified and quantified by radioimmunoassay. Nematodes from semidefined medium contained the immunoreactive equivalent of 460 pg ecdysone per gram dry weight. Culture medium, however, contained the immunoreactive equivalent of 68 times the quantity within the nematodes. In a defined medium lacking immunoreactivity, C. elegans contained 520 pg ecdysone equivalents per gram dry weight but reproduced slowly. Reproduction of C. elegans in defined medium was enhanced by formulation in agar. Propagation of C. elegans in either agar-based or aqueous defined medium supplemented with [14C]cholesterol of high specific activity failed to result in production of radiolabeled free ecdysteroids or polar or apolar ecdysteroid conjugates. Failure to demonstrate ecdysteroid biosynthesis in C. elegans raises questions about the ecdysteroids identified previously in nematodes being products of endogenous biosynthesis, a necessary condition for these compounds to be nematode hormones. Key words: Caenorhabditis elegans, culture, ecdysteroid, hormone, steroid.