In 1993, Dr. Kenyon discovered that a gene called daf-2 greatly influenced the life span of these worms.
Dr. Kenyon’s curiosity about the germline’s secrets was sharpened in 2010 by a study by Jérôme Goudeau and Hugo Aguilaniu, two biologists then at the University of Lyon in France.
In 2013, Dr. Kenyon and Dr. Bohnert set out to test that possibility. The protein clumps within the egg “Start to dance around,” said Dr. Bohnert. The detritus may even be recycled, Dr. Kenyon speculated, into building blocks needed to make the new proteins that are required to develop an embryo. “The hypothesis is that it’s not just a worm thing,” Dr. Kenyon said.
In their new paper, Dr. Kenyon and Dr. Bohnert reported that they had tested this hypothesis on frogs, which are much more closely related to humans than is C. elegans.