When I explain what I do in the Nematode Evolution Lab, it either goes over people's heads or makes their eyes glaze over with boredom. I've posted about my research before, but this last week I got to do some really cool gene knockout experiments. All of my research has been on nematodes who are immune to the effects of RNAi, but before I can submit my data for publication, I have to validate that they really all are resistant. That means I get to feed all of them special bacteria that express double stranded RNA to see if it knocks out any genes in their offspring. To make sure the bacteria is still viable, we have to try it out on the wildtype strain, which is not resistant to RNAi. That's what I did this last week. In most cases I couldn't see a crazy phenotype, but one of the strains had a gene knocked out that affects growth, and I ended up with a plate covered in little tiny nematodes. At first I thought they were just in the larval stage, but a few days later, they were still super small. I felt like I had accomplished something significant. I manipulated the gene expression of an organism and created midget nematodes!