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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The physical and behavioral effects of embryonic ethanol exposure in Caenorhabitis elegans Lin, Conny


In this thesis I used Caenorhabitis elegans as a model of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) to study the physical and behavioral effects of ethanol exposure during embryonic development. Davis et al. (2008) found that ethanol exposure during larval development in C. elegans produced physical/developmental and behavioral effects; however, whether exposure during embryonic development might produce similar outcomes remained to be elucidated. Because the type and degree of effects caused by developmental ethanol exposure was dependent on the pattern of ethanol treatment, in the first part of the thesis I investigated the physical/developmental effects of embryonic exposure to various ethanol doses, exposure durations, onsets and frequencies. I found that exposure to >30% ethanol for an hour during embryonic development was necessary to lower hatch rate, delay reproductive onset, and reduce body size in C. elegans. Furthermore, exposure during early embryonic development caused a larger effect than exposure during later stages, and multiple exposures produced a worse outcome than a single exposure for a comparable duration. In the second part of the thesis, I investigated locomotory activities and habituation of adult C. elegans exposed to various patterns of embryonic ethanol treatment. I found that the rate of locomotion was altered differently by chronic and acute embryonic ethanol exposure, but I did not find any effect in short- or long-term habituation. In summary, I have characterized the pattern of embryonic ethanol exposure necessary to produce physical/developmental effects in C. elegans, and identified the types of exposure conditions that would cause worse outcomes than others; in addition, I have found that embryonic ethanol exposure affects the rate of locomotion in C. elegans. In this thesis, I have established a foundation for the future investigation into the physical and motor defects caused by embryonic ethanol exposure in C. elegans.

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