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Multiple sensory neurons modify the gustatory preference in C. elegans

2019-12-18 10:46

Animals show behavioral plasticity through learning. Integrated multiple sensory inputs play a key role in generating proper behavioral output. In C. elegans, behavioral responses to NaCl is plastic and can be affected by combinations of NaCl concentration and food availability. The salt-sensing neuron called ASER is required to chemotaxis to NaCl, both after fed and starved conditioning. 

The sensory input to ASER alone is sufficient for the NaCl attraction behavior after fed, but is insufficient for avoidance of the NaCl concentrations experienced during starvation. A research team led by Professor Yuichi Iino from the University of Tokyo described that the ASG, a pair of sensory neurons are essential for generating starvation-dependent NaCl avoidance in cooperation with the ASER. Worms learn to avoid salt concentration that it has previously experienced under starvation with sensory inputs to both ASER and ASG. In addition, after conditioning under starvation, ASG input is involved in the mechanism of turning behaviors (i.e. sharp turn, a huge change of centroid movement direction) based on identified NaCl concentrations.