The neuroethology of C. elegans escape

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2012 Apr;22(2):187-93. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.12.007. Epub 2012 Jan 4.


Escape behaviors are crucial to survive predator encounters. Touch to the head of Caenorhabditis elegans induces an escape response where the animal rapidly backs away from the stimulus and suppresses foraging head movements. The coordination of head and body movements facilitates escape from predacious fungi that cohabitate with nematodes in organic debris. An appreciation of the natural habitat of laboratory organisms, like C. elegans, enables a comprehensive neuroethological analysis of behavior. In this review we discuss the neuronal mechanisms and the ecological significance of the C. elegans touch response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Escape Reaction / physiology*
  • Ethology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurology