Molecular genetic investigation of the early Caenorhabditis elegans embryo has contributed substantially to the discovery and general understanding of the genes, pathways, and mechanisms that regulate and execute developmental and cell biological processes. Initially, worm geneticists relied exclusively on a classical genetics approach, isolating mutants with interesting phenotypes after mutagenesis and then determining the identity of the affected genes. Subsequently, the discovery of RNA interference (RNAi) led to a much greater reliance on a reverse genetics approach: reducing the function of known genes with RNAi and then observing the phenotypic consequences. Now the advent of next-generation DNA sequencing technologies and the ensuing ease and affordability of whole-genome sequencing are reviving the use of classical genetics to investigate early C. elegans embryogenesis
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