Components and patterns in the behaviour of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans


  • *Institute of Parasitology, Macdonald College, McGill University, Montreal, P.Q., Canada.


The behavioural activities during movement, feeding and defaecation have been recorded and measured in adult females of Caenorhabditis elegans. The postures and components of recognizable wave forms are described. Stress has been laid on the mechanism of antagonistic interaction of backward and forward movement, and the rates and characteristics of “spontaneous” and “induced” reversal periods. During feeding, rapid rates of pharyngeal activity are invariably related to low rates of somatic muscle wave propagation. Head oscillations are considered to be separate events not directly linked with feeding or foraging. The combination of certain wave forms, together with other measurements have been used to develop a hypothesis to describe a co-ordinating mechanism applicable to the nematode level of organization.