Behavior Genetics

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 169–189 | Cite as

The behavioral genetics ofCaenorhabditis elegans

  • Eve Wolinsky
  • Jeffrey Way


Caenorhabditis elegans, a small free-living soil nematode, is an ideal organism for the genetic dissection of simple behaviors. Over 150 genes required for normal behavior have been identified. We review here the neural and genetic pathways underlying four of the best-studiedC. elegans behaviors: locomotion, response to gentle touch, egg-laying, and chemotaxis. Mutations affecting these behaviors have identified genes which specify neuronal cell lineage, neuronal cell fate, and the formation of cell matrix cues involved in axonal guidance. Molecular analysis of genes required for normal behavior offers the prospect of characterizing functionally important nervous system proteins, regardless of their abundance or biochemical role.

Key Words

C. elegans chemosensory mechanosensory egg-laying mec-3 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eve Wolinsky
    • 1
  • Jeffrey Way
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryNew York University Medical SchoolNew York
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Nelson LabsRutgers University (Piscataway)Piscataway

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