Reversal frequency in Caenorhabditis elegans represents an integrated response to the state of the animal and its environment

J Neurosci. 2003 Jun 15;23(12):5319-28. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.23-12-05319.2003.


The locomotion of Caenorhabditis elegans consists of forward crawling punctuated by spontaneous reversals. To better understand the important variables that affect locomotion, we have described in detail the locomotory behavior of C. elegans and identified a set of parameters that are sufficient to describe the animal's trajectory. A model of locomotion based on these parameters indicates that reversal frequency plays a central role in locomotion. We found that several variables such as humidity, gravidity, and mechanostimulation influence reversal frequency. Specifically, both gentle and harsh touch can transiently suppress reversal frequency. Thus, reversal behavior is a model for the integration of information from numerous modalities reflecting diverse aspects of the state of an organism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Environment
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Touch / physiology