DIET INFLUENCES THE REPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIOR OF CAENORHABDITIS ELEGANS
Lacey Lopez1, Stephen Banse2, Patrick Phillips2.
1University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 2University of Oregon, Eugene, OR.
Caenorhabditis elegans, a self-fertilizing bacterivorous nematode, serves as a well-characterized model organism for a variety of biological functions including reproduction. Reproductive behavior is influenced by the environment, with food availability having a particularly robust impact. Previous C. elegans studies examining the impacts of diet on reproductive behavior have primarily focused on the contrast between an overabundance and complete absence of food. Therefore, we wanted to study a wide range of food concentrations and their affects. Using microfluidic technology, we were able to precisely control the concentration and temporal pattern of available bacterial food sources which flow through an array of growth chambers that each hold a single worm. Eggs laid in each of the growth chambers were flushed into parallel channels, imaged, and quantified. Based on previous studies, we hypothesized that, as food concentration decreases, egg-laying events will also decrease. However, our results indicate that food concentration alone is not predictive of egg-laying behavior. Instead, our data suggest that the transitions between food availability as well as C. elegans developmental experiences with food affect reproductive behavior. This study will serve as the groundwork for understanding how diet impacts biological systems such as reproduction and, through that, we ultimately aim to understand the underpinnings of biological diversity in regards to reproductive behavior.