Virtual Library

The WWW Virtual Library: Model Organisms

[E. coli | S. cerevisiae | Dictyostelium | C.elegans | Drosophila | Arabidopsis | ZebraFish | Xenopus | Mouse | Others]

This site is a catalog of internet resources relating to biological model organisms, and is part of the Biosciences area of the Virtual Library project. Other organisms are listed under the Virtual Library sections for Genetics and Developmental Biology.

To comment on the site or suggest links, please contact the maintainer. If you would like to take over responsibility for a specific Model Organism, please contact the Virtual Library.

What is a Model Organism?

Many aspects of biology are similar in most or all organisms, but it is frequently much easier to study particular aspects in particular organisms - for instance, genetics is easier in small organisms that breed quickly, and very difficult in humans! The most popular model organisms have strong advantages for experimental research, and become even more useful when other scientists have already worked on them, discovering techniques, genes and other useful information.

General Model Organism Resources

There is little on the web regarding model organisms in general, but some of the better resources are:

Comparative Genomics of model and other organisms

With many genomes now sequenced, there are several efforts to functionally link genes in model organisms with their counterparts in humans and other models to expand their utility as models of human genes and processes. Some resources include

What are the main Model Organisms?

There are other excellent sections in the Virtual Library for these major Model Organisms:

The following are the most popular web resources for other major model organisms.

Caenorhabditis elegans (nematode worm)

This tiny worm has a very fast life cycle, an invariant lineage (every animal has a specific number of cells) and is the first multicellular animal to have it's genome sequenced.

Arabidopsis thaliana (mustard plant)

This is now the main model plant system for genetics. Its small genome, and the recent application of classical genetics has put it far ahead of other models of agricultural importance (tomato, tobacco, corn etc.) It's genome is due to be fully sequenced in 2000.


This small fish is a relatively new model. As a vertebrate, it is a good model for aspects of human biology, but is cheaper and easier to handle than mice, as well as having a transparent and readily accessible embryo for developmental biology work.


The closest model organism to humans is especially used in development, genetic and immunology studies.

Other model organisms


Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a unicellular alga.
Chlamydomonas internet resources from Wallace Marshall.
Cyanobacteria, (photosynthetic bacteria).


The Maize Page at Iowa State University.
Maize Genetics sites of interest
MaizeDB, the maize genome database.
The Virtual Library on Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding.


Aplysia californica: a snail used in Neurobiology research
The Aplysia hometank (Cornell)
Ascidians: Primitive chordates used in developmental biology
US Ascidian Home page (Fullerton)
Cnidarians/Coelenterates (jellyfish, corals, hydra etc.)
Cnidaria home page
Sea Urchin
Urchin Web
UrchiNet database
Mosquito (Aedes sp.)
Mosquito Genomics Server


Fugu rubripes: Pufferfish with a very compact genome, used in genomics research. The genome is now largely sequenced and being assembled.
Good Fugu site at the DOE JGI
Fugu pages at the MRC in England.
Medaka (ricefish; Oryzias latipes): another genetic model fish
Medakafish Homepage
Assorted mammals (mostly genomic resources)
Roslin Institute: Mapping databases for Pig, Chicken, Sheep, Cattle, Horse, Cat and Tilapia (fish).
The Dog Genome project at Berkeley.
US Department of Agriculture genome mapping projects for Sheep, Pig and Cow.

Other Model Organism Pages

(Belorussian translation)
Gerard Manning
Last update: Oct 14, 2010