Targeted thermal stimulation and high-content phenotyping reveal that the C. elegans escape response integrates current behavioral state and past experience.
PLoS One. 2020;15(3):e0229399
Authors: Byrne Rodgers J, Ryu WS
The ability to avoid harmful or potentially harmful stimuli can help an organism escape predators and injury, and certain avoidance mechanisms are conserved across the animal kingdom. However, how the need to avoid an imminent threat is balanced with current behavior and modified by past experience is not well understood. In this work we focused on rapidly increasing temperature, a signal that triggers an escape response in a variety of animals, including the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We have developed a noxious thermal response assay using an infrared laser that can be automatically controlled and targeted in order to investigate how C. elegans responds to noxious heat over long timescales and to repeated stimuli in various behavioral and sensory contexts. High-content phenotyping of behavior in individual animals revealed that the C. elegans escape response is multidimensional, with some features that extend for several minutes, and can be modulated by (i) stimulus amplitude; (ii) other sensory inputs, such as food context; (iii) long and short-term thermal experience; and (iv) the animal's current behavioral state.
PMID: 32218560 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]