Chemosensory neurons with overlapping functions direct chemotaxis to multiple chemicals in C. elegans

Neuron. 1991 Nov;7(5):729-42. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(91)90276-6.


The functions of the 11 classes of exposed chemosensory neurons of C. elegans were tested by killing cells with a laser microbeam. One pair of neurons, the ASE neurons, is uniquely important for chemotaxis: killing the ASE neurons greatly reduced chemotaxis to cAMP, biotin, Cl-, and Na+. Additional chemosensory function is distributed among several other cell types. Thus, 3 pairs of chemosensory neurons (ADF, ASG, and ASI) contribute to a residual response to cAMP, biotin, Cl-, and Na+ after ASE is killed. Chemotaxis to lysine similarly depends on the partly redundant functions of 4 pairs of chemosensory neurons (ASE, ASG, ASI, and ASK). The combined activity of several neuron types that act in parallel might increase the fidelity of chemotaxis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotin / pharmacology
  • Caenorhabditis / drug effects
  • Caenorhabditis / physiology*
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Chemotaxis / physiology*
  • Cyclic AMP / pharmacology
  • Electrolytes / pharmacology
  • Lasers
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / radiation effects


  • Electrolytes
  • Biotin
  • Cyclic AMP