Mechanistic analysis of the search behaviour of Caenorhabditis elegans

Salvador, L. C. M. , Bartumeus, F., Levin, S. A. and Ryu, W. S. (2014) Mechanistic analysis of the search behaviour of Caenorhabditis elegans. Journal of the Royal Society: Interface, 11(92), 20131092. (doi: 10.1098/rsif.2013.1092) (PMID:24430127) (PMCID:PMC3899880)

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A central question in movement research is how animals use information and movement to promote encounter success. Current random search theory identifies reorientation patterns as key to the compromise between optimizing encounters for both nearby and faraway targets, but how the balance between intrinsic motor programmes and previous environmental experience determines the occurrence of these reorientation behaviours remains unknown. We used high-resolution tracking and imaging data to describe the complete motor behaviour of Caenorhabditis elegans when placed in a novel environment (one in which food is absent). Movement in C. elegans is structured around different reorientation behaviours, and we measured how these contributed to changing search strategies as worms became familiar with their new environment. This behavioural transition shows that different reorientation behaviours are governed by two processes: (i) an environmentally informed ‘extrinsic’ strategy that is influenced by recent experience and that controls for area-restricted search behaviour, and (ii) a time-independent, ‘intrinsic’ strategy that reduces spatial oversampling and improves random encounter success. Our results show how movement strategies arise from a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms, that search behaviour in C. elegans is initially determined by expectations developed from previous environmental experiences, and which reorientation behaviours are modified as information is acquired from new environments.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:search behaviour, reorientation patterns,environmental, uncertainty, stochasticity, superdiffusion, Caenorhabditis elegans
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Salvador, Dr Liliana
Authors: Salvador, L. C. M., Bartumeus, F., Levin, S. A., and Ryu, W. S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Journal of the Royal Society: Interface
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN (Online):1742-5662

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