Biology Department Faculty Bruce Wightman
Professor of Biology
New Science Building 220


Visit Bruce Wightman's website


B.A. Oberlin College
Ph.D. Harvard University

Courses Taught

Principles of Biology III (BIO 152)
Theory of Evolution (BIO 180)
Genetics (BIO 215)
Genomes and Gene Evolution (BIO 385)
Molecular Biology (BIO 412)

Research Interests

My lab studies the molecular genetics of development in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This microscopic worm has proved a fruitful model for understanding basic biological problems. Research students in my lab are studying a gene called fax-1, which functions in development of neurons and a related gene called nhr-67, which functions in the development of various cells and organs. These studies provide models for understanding an inherited form of human blindness called Enhanced S-Cone Sensitivity and for understanding the mechanism cell-to-cell signaling and cancer. For more detailed information, consult the Wightman Research Lab homepage.


Mardick JI, Rasmussen NR, Wightman B, Reiner DJ. Parallel Rap1>RalGEF>Ral and Ras signals sculpt the C. elegans nervous system. Dev Biol. 2021 Sep;477:37-48. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2021.05.004. Epub 2021 May 13. PMID: 33991533; PMCID: PMC8277711.

Bodofsky, S.,  Liberatore, K., Pioppo, L., Lapadula, D., Thompson, L., Birnbaum, S., McClung, G., Kartik, A., Clever, S. and Wightman, B., 2018, A tissue-specific enhancer of the C. elegans nhr-67/tailless gene drives coordinated expression in uterine stem cells and the differentiated anchor cell, Gene Expr Patterns, 30: 71-81, doi: 10.1016/j.gep.2018.10.003. PubMed PMID: 30404043.

Bodofsky, S., Koitz, F., and Wightman, B., 2017, Conserved and Exapted Functions of Nuclear Receptors in Animal Development, Nuclear Receptor Research 4 (2017), 101305, 33 pages.

Corsi, A., Wightman, B., Chalfie, M., 2015, A Transparent Genetic Window into Biology:  A Primer on the Caenorhabditis elegans Model System, Genetics, 200: 387–407 [Published in parallel in WormBook: The Online Review of C. elegans Biology;]

Wightman, B. and Hark, A. T., 2012, Integration of Bioinformatics into an Undergraduate Biology Curriculum and the Impact on Development of Mathematical Skills, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 40(5): 310–319.

Weber, K. P., Alvaro, C. G., Baer, G. M., Reinert, K., Cheng, G., Clever S., Wightman, B., 2012, Analysis of C. elegans NR2E nuclear receptors defines three conserved clades and ligand-independent functions, BMC Evolutionary Biology, 12:81.

Verghese, E., Schocken, J., Jacob, S., Wimer, A. M., Royce, R., Nesmith, J.E., Baer, G.M., Clever, S., McCain, E., Lakowski, B., and B. Wightman, 2011, The tailless ortholog nhr-67 functions in the development of the C. elegans ventral uterus, Developmental Biology, 356:516-28.

DeMeo, S. ('04), Lombel, R. ('04), Snowflack, D. ('03), Smith, E. ('01), Reinert, K. ('01), Cronin, M., Clever, S., and B. Wightman (2008) Specificity of DNA-binding by the FAX-1 and NHR-67 nuclear receptors of Caenorhabditis elegans is partially mediated via a subclass-specific P-box residue, BMC Molecular Biology, 9:2.

Su, C.-W., S. Tharin, Y. Jin, B. Wightman, M. Spector, D. Meili, N. Tsung, C. Rhiner, D. Bourikas, E. Stoeckli, G. Garriga, H. R. Horvitz, and M. O. Hengartner, 2006, The short coiled-coil domain-containing protein UNC-69 cooperates with UNC-76 to regulate axonal outgrowth and normal presynaptic organization in Caenorhabditis elegans, Journal of Biology 5: 9.1-9.25.

Wightman, B., N. Carmean ('98), B. Ebert ('99), K. Weber, and S. Clever (2005) The C. elegans nuclear receptor gene fax-1 and homeobox gene unc-42 coordinate interneuron identity by regulating the expression of glutamate receptor subunits and other neuron-specific genes, Developmental Biology 287: 74-85.

Ruvkun G., B. Wightman, and I. Ha, 2004, The 20 years it took to recognize the importance of tiny RNAs, Cell 116: s93-s96.

Much, J. W ., D. J. Slade (’99), K. Klampert, G. Garriga and B. Wightman, 2000, The fax-1 nuclear hormone receptor regulates axon pathfinding and neurotransmitter expression, Development, 127: 703-712.

Wolf, F. W., M.-s. Hung, B. Wightman, J. Way and G. Garriga, 1998, vab-8 is a key regulator of posteriorly directed migrations in C. elegans and encodes a novel protein with kinesin motor similarity, Neuron, 20: 655-666.