Theory of the locomotion of nematodes: Dynamics of undulatory progression on a surface

Biophys J. 1991 Nov;60(5):1132-46. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(91)82149-X.


We develop a model of the undulatory locomotion of nematodes, in particular that of Caenorhabditis elegans, based on mechanics. The model takes into account the most important forces acting on a moving worm and allows the computer simulation of a creeping nematode. These forces are produced by the interior pressure in the liquid-filled body cavity, the elasticity of the cuticle, the excitation of certain sets of muscles and the friction between the body and its support.We propose that muscle excitation patterns can be generated by stretch receptor control. By solving numerically the equations of motion of the model of the nematode, we demonstrate that these muscle excitation patterns are suitable for the propulsion of the animal.