The role of carbon dioxide in nematode behaviour and physiology

Parasitology. 2020 Jul;147(8):841-854. doi: 10.1017/S0031182019001422. Epub 2019 Oct 11.


Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important sensory cue for many animals, including both parasitic and free-living nematodes. Many nematodes show context-dependent, experience-dependent and/or life-stage-dependent behavioural responses to CO2, suggesting that CO2 plays crucial roles throughout the nematode life cycle in multiple ethological contexts. Nematodes also show a wide range of physiological responses to CO2. Here, we review the diverse responses of parasitic and free-living nematodes to CO2. We also discuss the molecular, cellular and neural circuit mechanisms that mediate CO2 detection in nematodes, and that drive context-dependent and experience-dependent responses of nematodes to CO2.

Keywords: C. elegans; Carbon dioxide; Strongyloides; chemotaxis; hookworms; nematodes; parasitic nematodes; sensory behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ancylostomatoidea / physiology
  • Animals
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism*
  • Chemotaxis / physiology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology
  • Humans
  • Life Cycle Stages / physiology
  • Nematoda / physiology*
  • Strongyloides / physiology


  • Carbon Dioxide