In this issue of GENETICS, the Genetics Society of America launches WormBook, a collection of reviews encompassing the breadth and depth of Caenorhabditis elegans research. We invite novice and established C. elegans researchers, and the many scientists working on other organisms, related topics, or orthologous genes, to learn in these pages about the insights that have come from work on C. elegans since the publication of Sydney Brenner’s foundational article in GENETICS (Brenner 1974).
WormBook in GENETICS is really the fourth incarnation of a community project that began with the publication of a Cold Spring Harbor monograph, “The Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans,” in 1988—a still useful volume that contains 12 chapters plus appendices with much basic information about the worm, as well as Sydney Brenner’s proposal to the Medical Research Council describing his rationale and vision for the worm, and showing that we are all still standing on his shoulders. The second Cold Spring Harbor monograph, “C. elegans II,” published in 1996, grew to contain 30 chapters plus appendices. It also contains a preface in which Brenner remarked not only on the breadth of the biology encompassed in those pages but also on “the wonderful feature that I experienced first and which everyone has experienced since: that with a few toothpicks, some Petri dishes, and a microscope, you can open the door to all of biology.” How we worm people feel about our beast and our field cannot be said any better than that!
The third incarnation was the creation of WormBook, a pioneering online compendium “created in response to the need to develop a publishing model that could keep pace with a rapidly growing knowledge base and provide a central repository for methods and protocols” (Girard et al. 2006). Chapters of WormBook were published beginning in 2005 in conjunction with WormBase, which began as a pioneering effort to expand the database of the genome-sequencing project database into a web-based one-stop shop for information about C. elegans, and is now thriving not only as the central repository for research data on all aspects of the biology, genetics, and genomics of C. elegans, but also for other nematode species (Howe et al. 2015). The publication of over 150 chapters in WormBook has furthered the WormBase mission to make information about the worm accessible and available to the community.
This fourth incarnation, launched here as WormBook in GENETICS, is more than just “WormBook II.” It is an opportunity to respond to the ever-increasing pace and complexity of C. elegans research by treating information and discoveries in a more synthetic and interdisciplinary way. Thus, WormBook in GENETICS will have a different section organization to encourage bigger themes, and many chapters are being conceived with the express purpose of bringing together subtopics that can be tied together by common mechanisms or overarching questions or lessons. Indeed, in many cases it has been difficult to decide in what section a chapter belongs, so we anticipate cross-listing some chapters so that readers can find all relevant chapters while browsing a section.
WormBook in GENETICS will publish review articles spanning the range of C. elegans biology over the course of about 4 years. These articles will be accessible in the journal via a WormBook collection on the GENETICS homepage. As with past incarnations of this project, WormBook chapters in GENETICS will not necessarily supplant existing ones, and thus the two entities will be linked via their homepages. We launch WormBook with a new chapter, “CRISPR-based Methods for C. elegans Genome Engineering,” and links to a primer and several Perspectives articles that have appeared in GENETICS.
We gratefully acknowledge the important contributions of Martin Chalfie, the founding editor-in-chief of WormBook, and Paul Sternberg, the publisher of chapters hosted via WormBase; the advisory board and section editors who have helped conceive and execute WormBook in GENETICS; and our many colleagues in the field who are contributing as authors and reviewers. Together, we will all ensure that this project represents and serves the needs of our community.
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne
Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis
California Institute of Technology
Cell and Organelle Biology
Institut de Biologie Paris-Seine
Barth D. Grant
Cell Fate, Signaling, and Development
Meera V. Sundaram
University of Pennsylvania
Geraldine C. Seydoux
Johns Hopkins University/HHMI
Evolution and Ecology
Institut de Biologie de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure
Asher D. Cutter
University of Toronto
Gene and Genome Regulatory Mechanisms
John K. Kim
Johns Hopkins University
University of California, Santa Cruz
Metabolism, Physiology, and Aging
Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing
Neurobiology and Behavior
University of Toyko
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- Copyright © 2016 by the Genetics Society of America