C. elegans can self fertilize, or they can mate with males. But are they able to mate with females? Or is there some kind of morphological barrier that prevents that?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ By "females" you probably mean hermaphrodites: C. elegans have no females. $\endgroup$
    – alephreish
    Oct 28, 2014 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ There are female mutants, actually. $\endgroup$
    – Leon Avery
    Jan 26, 2015 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


Since only the male tail is equipped with various specialized sensory and copulatory structures that enable him to locate the vulva and successfully inseminate the hermaphrodite. Hermaphrodites can self-fertilize, but only males can cross-fertilize a hermaphrodite.

sources: Wormbook: Male development
C. elegans II (2nd edition): Sexual Dimorphism

  • $\begingroup$ The C elegans hermaphrodite is basically a female, except that she makes some sperm of her own. (Judith Kimble likes to say that a hermaphrodite is a female who's learned to be independent.) C elegans is derived from male/female species by a small change in sex determination in the female germ line. As you'd expect for a female, she can mate with males, but not other females. $\endgroup$
    – Leon Avery
    Jan 26, 2015 at 21:49

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