Put 50 newborn worms in 50 separate containers, and they’ll all start looking for food at roughly the same time. Like members of other species, microscopic C. elegans roundworms tend to act like other individuals their own age.
It turns out that the innate system that controls age-appropriate #behavior in a developing worm is not entirely dependable, however. Despite sharing identical #genes and growing up in similar environments, some individual worms will inevitably march to the beat of their own drum.
New research from Rockefeller University illuminates the #biology that guides behavior across different stages of life, and also suggests how variations in specific #neuromodulators in the developing nervous system may lead to occasional variations. The work, led by Cori Bargmann, is made possible by a newly engineered system that allows scientists to record behavioral information for individual worms over an entire lifecycle. It is published in Cell.
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Stern, S., Kirst, C., & Bargmann, C. I. (2017). Neuromodulatory Control of Long-Term Behavioral Patterns and #Individuality across Development. Cell, 171(7), 1649-1662.