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Simulation of C. elegans thermotactic behavior in a linear thermal gradient using a simple phenomenological motility model.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Theoretical Biology
1095-8541
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
250
Issue
2
Pages
230–243
Identifiers
PMID: 18005996
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been reported to exhibit thermotaxis, a sophisticated behavioral response to temperature. However, there appears to be some inconsistency among previous reports. The results of population-level thermotaxis investigations suggest that C. elegans can navigate to the region of its cultivation temperature from nearby regions of higher or lower temperature. However, individual C. elegans nematodes appear to show only cryophilic tendencies above their cultivation temperature. A Monte-Carlo style simulation using a simple individual model of C. elegans provides insight into clarifying apparent inconsistencies among previous findings. The simulation using the thermotaxis model that includes the cryophilic tendencies, isothermal tracking and thermal adaptation was conducted. As a result of the random walk property of locomotion of C. elegans, only cryophilic tendencies above the cultivation temperature result in population-level thermophilic tendencies. Isothermal tracking, a period of active pursuit of an isotherm around regions of temperature near prior cultivation temperature, can strengthen the tendencies of these worms to gather around near-cultivation-temperature regions. A statistical index, the thermotaxis (TTX) L-skewness, was introduced and was useful in analyzing the population-level thermotaxis of model worms.

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