Potential Nematode Alarm Pheromone Induces Acute Avoidance in Caenorhabditis elegans
It is crucial for animal survival to detect dangers such as predators. A good indicator of dangers is injury of conspecifics. Here we show that fluids released from injured conspecifics invoke acute avoidance in both free-living and parasitic nematodes. Caenorhabditis elegans avoids extracts from closely related nematode species but not fruit fly larvae. The worm extracts have no impact on animal lifespan, suggesting that the worm extract may function as an alarm instead of inflicting physical harm. Avoidance of the worm extract requires the function of a cGMP signaling pathway that includes the cGMP-gated channel TAX-2/TAX-4 in the amphid sensory neurons ASI and ASK. Genetic evidence indicates that the avoidance behavior is modulated by the neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin, two common targets of anxiolytic drugs. Together, these data support a model that nematodes use a nematode-specific alarm pheromone to detect conspecific injury.
Caenorhabditis elegans; chemotaxis; olfactory; pheromone