Thesis subject

Worm nictation: Jumping on a fly to get a free ride

Nematode worms have developed a fascinating strategy to escape unfavorable conditions. They stand on their tail and wave their head until an animal such as a fly passes by, which is then used as a carrier to travel to a new niche. While several involved genes and neurons have been identified, the interaction with the carrier has never been directly observed.

How does the worm jump on its carrier? How does the carrier react and how does the sudden increase in load affects its flight?

You will establish protocols to generate nictation behavior of C. elegans worms in the lab. Further, you will use high-speed video recordings to study worm-carrier interactions and gain mechanistic understanding of the dispersal strategy.  

Examiner: Prof. Dr. Ir. Johan L. van Leeuwen
Supervisors: Steffen Werner
Florian Muijres
Contact: Steffen Werner (via contact form)
Begin date: 01/05/2021 (variable)
End date: 01/05/2022 (variable)
Credits: 24 - 30 ECTS MSc (variable)
12 ECTS BSc
For: BSc Biology and/or MSc Biology / Animal Sciences
Requirements: Interest in high-speed imaging. Previous experience with C. elegans worms is a plus. For MSc students follow the course Developmental Biology of Animals (EZO-30306) or Functional Zoology (EZO-30806).
Used skills: Handling of C. elegans worms, imaging and analysis of the worm and insect behavior.