The nematode worm C. elegans is studied in labs around the world interested in the genetics of brains and behaviour. That’s partly because C. elegans has a very small ‘brain’ with only 302 neurons, which makes some things easier to study than in larger animals. Still, their compact brains don’t limit their elegance. Here flowing lines represent the paths followed by a worm’s body that we track automatically from videos. Frayed ends of some tracks are from the worm’s head, which it casts back and forth in a motion sometimes called ‘foraging’. By analysing large numbers of videos, we search for worms with genetic defects that disrupt their smooth behaviour. This can give us hints about what the affected genes might be doing in the worm’s neurons.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.