Understanding The Effect Of Environment In Social Behaviors


An animal’s response to the same stimulus can elicit a multitude of reactions dependent on environmental and behavioral conditions. This observation, along with the finite number of the neurons and synapses in C. elegans, prompts the question as to whether sensory circuits can ‘reconfigure’ themselves without modifying the ‘hard-wiring’. We are interested in investigating the molecular and cellular levels of functional circuit dynamics, or neuromodulation, involved in different behavioral responses. To address this question, we utilize small molecule social cues (ascarosides) that induce behavioral responses in a state-dependent manner. Upon elucidation of the underlying circuitry for responses to different ascarosides, we will characterize how these networks are modified by both the animals’ physiological state and the presence of food in the environment.