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Angstman, Nicholas B.; Frank, Hans-Georg and Schmitz, Christoph (2016): Advanced Behavioral Analyses Show that the Presence of Food Causes Subtle Changes in C. elegans Movement. In: Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol. 10, 60 [PDF, 1MB]

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As a widely used and studied model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans worms offer the ability to investigate implications of behavioral change. Although, investigation of C. elegans behavioral traits has been shown, analysis is often narrowed down to measurements based off a single point, and thus cannot pick up on subtle behavioral and morphological changes. In the present study videos were captured of four different C. elegans strains grown in liquid cultures and transferred to NGM-agar plates with an E coil lawn or with no lawn. Using an advanced software, WormLab, the full skeleton and outline of worms were tracked to determine whether the presence of food affects behavioral traits. In all seven investigated parameters, statistically significant differences were found in worm behavior between those moving on NGM-agar plates with an E coli lawn and NGM-agar plates with no lawn. Furthermore, multiple test groups showed differences in interaction between variables as the parameters that significantly correlated statistically with speed of locomotion varied. In the present study, we demonstrate the validity of a model to analyze C. elegans behavior beyond simple speed of locomotion. The need to account for a nested design while performing statistical analyses in similar studies is also demonstrated. With extended analyses, C. elegans behavioral change can be investigated with greater sensitivity, which could have wide utility in fields such as, but not limited to, toxicology, drug discovery, and RNAi screening.

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