Date of Award

Fall 12-3-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

MS Microbiology




C. elegans, ethanol, fertility, disinhibition, stem cell


Ethanol is the most commonly abused drug in the world. Alcohol consumption increases a number of health risks, morbidity and mortality, and chronic and acute diseases. Some health risks include high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, cancer, and can include mental health and social problems. Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to learning and memory problems, along with alcohol dependence. Additionally, alcohol consumption has an impact on ovarian reserve, steroid hormone production, sperm quality, fecundity, and fertility treatments. The purpose of this study was to analyze the effects of ethanol exposure on fertility of the N2 wild type as measured by the number of progeny along with the effects of chronic ethanol consumption on the mitotic germline of L4 Caenorhabditis elegans. In addition, the effects of alcohol consumption were analyzed in two mutant strains: GC1373and GC1374. GC1373 has additional mutations in the glp-1 gene and notch pathway. With mutations in these functionalities, the GC1373 strain has a reduction in the differentiation of all germ stem cells. GC1374 only has the reduction of function mutation, on the pk1417 allele, this strain only produces half the number of adult germline stem cells. Worms were treated with 0 mM, 200 mM, 300 mM and 400 mM ethanol concentrations for 7 days, after L4 stage is reached, and the effects assayed by progeny counting, ethanol absorbance, mitotic germ cell counting. Our results demonstrate that chronic ethanol exposure causes lasting effects on the C. elegans germline. Chronic ethanol exposure also decreased the progeny counts of the mutant strains GC1373 and GC1374. The results presented support previous work performed on various animal models indicating chronic ethanol exposure decreased the reproductive abilities; acute exposure, for 15 minutes or 120 minutes, does not cause lasting effects on the progeny of C. elegans nor on the birth rate of other animal models. Our data suggests that chronic ethanol exposure causes lasting damage to the C. elegans germline.