The genus name is derived from Greek
and Latin (Caeno, recent; rhabditis, rod-like).
Eggs may hatch within the bodies of older females. The females then die
and the juveniles consume bacteria decomposing the female body. This has
been thought to occur when the vaginal muscles are no longer strong enough to
eject the eggs and is termed
endotokia matricida due
to the resultant death of the female (Seurat, 1914). In the Caenorhabditis elegans
literature, the phenomenon has been termed "bagging" . The hypothesis has
been advanced that intra-uterine hatch is a part of the C. elegans
life cycle, and complements androdioecy ( the existence of a hermaphrodite
population and a male population) and the dauer (a resistant or enduring
stage) stage to enhance progeny survival and dispersal under stress.
Consequently, per the hypothesis, matricidal hatching, has been
perpetuated in C. elegans through evolutionary time as it confers a
survival advantage when resources are scarce or conditions unfavorable (Chen &
Chen J.; Caswell-Chen E.P. 2003. Why Caenorhabditis elegans adults
sacrifice their bodies to progeny. Nematology 5:641-645.
Seurat, L.G. 1914. Sur un cas dï¿½endotokie matricide chez un oxyure.
Comptes-Rendues de la Sociï¿½tï¿½ de Biologie, 76:850-853.