The nematode C. elegans has powerful genetics, a well-described nervous system, and a complete genome sequence;thus, it is well suited to analysis of behavior and development at the molecular and cellular levels. In particular, the ability to functionally map the influence of particular genes to specific behavioral consequences makes it possible to use genetic analysis to functionally dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying poorly understood aspects of nervous system function. However, many genes with critical roles in neuronal function have effects on behavior that to a casual observer appear very subtle or difficult to describe precisely. Therefore, to fully realize the potential of C. elegans for the genetic analysis of nervous system function, it is necessary to develop sophisticated methods for the rapid and consistent quantitation of mutant phenotypes, especially those related to behavior. The goal of this proposed work is to develop computer vision tools for quantitatively characterizing the phenotypic patterns caused by mutations or pharmacological treatments in C. elegans. By making it possible to precisely characterize the behavioral phenotypes of mutants with abnormal locomotion or egglaying, these tools will be particularly useful for correlating specific neurotransmission defects with characteristic behavioral patterns. These analytical tools will also be used to generate a comprehensive database containing complex behavioral data on a large set of mutant strains. This database will make it possible to identify groups of mutants and pharmacological treatments that have similar effects on behavior or development. With the accumulation of increasing phenotypic data on known mutants, it should ultimately be possible to record from unknown mutant or drug-treated animals and make informed initial hypotheses about the functions of uncharacterized genes and the targets of uncharacterized drugs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BDMA (01))
Program Officer
Satterlee, John S
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
California Institute of Technology
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Zhou, Ying; Loeza-Cabrera, Mario; Liu, Zheng et al. (2017) Potential Nematode Alarm Pheromone Induces Acute Avoidance in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics 206:1469-1478
Aleman-Meza, Boanerges; Loeza-Cabrera, Mario; Peña-Ramos, Omar et al. (2017) High-content behavioral profiling reveals neuronal genetic network modulating Drosophila larval locomotor program. BMC Genet 18:40
Gonzales, Daniel L; Badhiwala, Krishna N; Vercosa, Daniel G et al. (2017) Scalable electrophysiology in intact small animals with nanoscale suspended electrode arrays. Nat Nanotechnol 12:684-691
Labocha, Marta K; Yuan, Wang; Aleman-Meza, Boanerges et al. (2017) A strategy to apply quantitative epistasis analysis on developmental traits. BMC Genet 18:42
Ezcurra, Marina; Walker, Denise S; Beets, Isabel et al. (2016) Neuropeptidergic Signaling and Active Feeding State Inhibit Nociception in Caenorhabditis elegans. J Neurosci 36:3157-69
Jung, Sang-Kyu; Qu, Xiaolei; Aleman-Meza, Boanerges et al. (2015) Multi-endpoint, high-throughput study of nanomaterial toxicity in Caenorhabditis elegans. Environ Sci Technol 49:2477-85
Aleman-Meza, Boanerges; Jung, Sang-Kyu; Zhong, Weiwei (2015) An automated system for quantitative analysis of Drosophila larval locomotion. BMC Dev Biol 15:11
Labocha, Marta K; Jung, Sang-Kyu; Aleman-Meza, Boanerges et al. (2015) WormGender - Open-Source Software for Automatic Caenorhabditis elegans Sex Ratio Measurement. PLoS One 10:e0139724
Schwarz, Roland F; Branicky, Robyn; Grundy, Laura J et al. (2015) Changes in Postural Syntax Characterize Sensory Modulation and Natural Variation of C. elegans Locomotion. PLoS Comput Biol 11:e1004322
Cho, Julie Y; Sternberg, Paul W (2014) Multilevel modulation of a sensory motor circuit during C. elegans sleep and arousal. Cell 156:249-60

Showing the most recent 10 out of 24 publications