Roller mutants of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

Mol Gen Genet. 1977 Jan 7;150(1):63-72. doi: 10.1007/BF02425326.


The wild type nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, moves in a sinusoidal wave pattern and leaves sinusoidal paths behind it on a bacterial lawn. The nematode crawls on its side on a special cuticular tread that extends straight down the length of its body. Wild type worms also have rows of musculature and a ventral nerve cord that extend straight down the body. Roller mutants rotate around their long axis as they crawl and move in circular paths. Three roller mutants have been studied. Two mutants are left rollers and one is a right roller. The left rollers have left-handed helical treads, body musculatures, and ventral nerve cords whereas these structures are right-handed helices in the right roller. Double mutants constructed from roller mutants and long mutants indicate that long rollers have helices of the same pitch as normal length rollers. Double mutants constructed from rollers and dumpy mutants that are short and fat indicate dumpy phenotype is epistatic to roller. Double mutants constructed from rollers and blister mutants that have cuticular swelling indicate roller phenotype is epistatic to blister. The results suggest that the roller phenotypes are due to cuticular lesions. Rollers can chemotaxe up a gradient of an attractant by turning off their body muscle movement and continuing their head movements.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemotaxis
  • Genes*
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Movement
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Mutation
  • Nematoda* / anatomy & histology
  • Nematoda* / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Temperature