A Caltech Library Service

A Sensory Code for Host Seeking in Parasitic Nematodes

Hallem, Elissa A. and Dillman, Adler R. and Hong, Annie V. and Zhang, Yuanjun and Yano, Jessica M. and DeMarco, Stephanie F. and Sternberg, Paul W. (2011) A Sensory Code for Host Seeking in Parasitic Nematodes. Current Biology, 21 (5). pp. 377-383. ISSN 0960-9822. PMCID PMC3152378.

[img] PDF - Accepted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Parasitic nematode species often display highly specialized host-seeking behaviors that reflect their specific host preferences. Many such behaviors are triggered by host odors, but little is known about either the specific olfactory cues that trigger these behaviors or the underlying neural circuits. Heterorhabditis bacteriophora and Steinernema carpocapsae are phylogenetically distant insect-parasitic nematodes whose host-seeking and host-invasion behavior resembles that of some devastating human- and plant-parasitic nematodes. We compare the olfactory responses of Heterorhabditis and Steinernema infective juveniles (IJs) to those of Caenorhabditis elegans dauers, which are analogous life stages [1]. The broad host range of these parasites results from their ability to respond to the universally produced signal carbon dioxide (CO_2), as well as a wide array of odors, including host-specific odors that we identified using thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. We find that CO_2 is attractive for the parasitic IJs and C. elegans dauers despite being repulsive for C. elegans adults [2–4], and we identify a sensory neuron that mediates CO_2 response in both parasitic and free-living species, regardless of whether CO_2 is attractive or repulsive. The parasites’ odor response profiles are more similar to each other than to that of C. elegans despite their greater phylogenetic distance, likely reflecting evolutionary convergence to insect parasitism.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle CentralArticle
Dillman, Adler R.0000-0001-7171-4332
Sternberg, Paul W.0000-0002-7699-0173
Additional Information:© 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Received 3 November 2010; revised 29 December 2010; accepted 20 January 2011. Published online: February 24, 2011. Available online 25 February 2011. We thank Todd Ciche, Heidi Goodrich-Blair, Patrick McGrath, and Cori Bargmann for nematode and bacterial stocks; Nathan Dalleska, the Caltech Environmental Analysis Center, and Andrea Choe for help with TD-GC-MS; Scott Peat and Byron Adams for help with phylogenetic analysis; and Jagan Srinivasan, David Prober, Byron Adams, Bruce Hay, Hillel Schwartz, and laboratory members for critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (with which P.W.S. is an investigator), a Helen Hay Whitney postdoctoral fellowship and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pathway to Independence award to E.A.H., an NIH United States Public Health Service Training Grant (T32GM07616) to A.R.D., and Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships to A.V.H., Y.Z., and J.M.Y.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)UNSPECIFIED
Helen Hay Whitney FoundationUNSPECIFIED
NIH Predoctoral FellowshipT32GM07616
Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:5
PubMed Central ID:PMC3152378
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110329-141518846
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:AElissa A. Hallem, Adler R. Dillman, Annie V. Hong, Yuanjun Zhang, Jessica M. Yano, Stephanie F. DeMarco, Paul W. Sternberg, A Sensory Code for Host Seeking in Parasitic Nematodes, Current Biology, Volume 21, Issue 5, 8 March 2011, Pages 377-383, ISSN 0960-9822, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.01.048. (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:23160
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:29 Mar 2011 21:56
Last Modified:29 Oct 2019 21:35

Repository Staff Only: item control page