Developmental alterations in sensory neuroanatomy of the Caenorhabditis elegans dauer larva

J Comp Neurol. 1983 Oct 1;219(4):461-81. doi: 10.1002/cne.902190407.


The anterior sensory ultrastructure of the C. elegans dauer larva was examined in several specimens and compared with that of the second-stage (L2) larva, which immediately precedes the dauer stage. In some instances comparisons were made with L3, postdauer L4, and adult stages. Whereas sensory structures in different nondauer stages closely resemble each other, including the inner labial sensilla, amphids, and deirids. The relative positions of the afferent tips of the two types of inner labial neurons are reversed in the dauer stage compared to the L2 and postdauer L4 stages. Inner labial neuron 1 rather than neuron 2 is more anterior in each of the six sensilla, and neuron 1 has an enlarged tip. The neuron 2 cilia are only one-third as long as those in the L2. Amphidial neurons c, d, g, and i and the amphidial sheath cell are altered in shape or position in the dauer stage. Neurons g and i are displaced posteriorly within the dauer amphidial channel. Neuron d has significantly more microvillar projections than do the d cells in L2, L3, or postdauer L4 larvae. Winglike processes of dauer neuron c form a 200 degrees-240 degrees arc in transverse section, including extensive overlap of the two cells. The arc in an L2 seldom spans more than 100 degrees, and overlap does not occur. While L2 larvae possess two separate bilateral amphidial sheath cells, the left and right sheath cells are often continuous in the dauer larva. Deirid sensory dendrites exhibit a dauer-specific structure and orientation. The tip of each neuron is attached to the body wall cuticle by a substructure not observed in L2 or postdauer L4 stages, and the neurons are oriented parallel to the longitudinal axis of the dauer larva. The deirid sensory terminals are oriented perpendicular to the cuticle in other stages. Reversible alterations in neural structure are discussed in the context of dauer-specific behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis / growth & development*
  • Detergents / pharmacology
  • Larva
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure


  • Detergents