Characterizing the Role of Glutamate in Decision-Making Behavior

Gianina Pontrelli, Trevor Wolf, Ariana Perez, & Dr. Gareth Harris


Glutamate signaling is a key neurotransmitter involved in complex behaviors. This project uses the invertebrate worm, C. elegans, to characterize how glutamate controls decision-making behaviors. This project used a behavioral paradigm that examines escape responses. This behavioral paradigm includes mutant nematodes on a food patch and a repulsive odorant, 2-nonanone, placed adjacent to the food patch. The leaving rate of the mutants is compared to the wildtype N2 worm. The findings of this experiment include glutamate signaling mediates, 1) food recognition and 2) food leaving during exposure to repellents. Findings also include roles for glutamate based on using mutant analysis, to examine worms that lack glutamate transmission of downstream glutamate receptors. This project has identified a role for glutamate signaling in spontaneous food related behavior, a role for glutamate and multiple glutamate receptors that mediate food leaving. This provides a platform to continue investigations of how neurotransmitters control decision-making behaviors.


Session 2

3:00pm – 4:30pm

Grand Salon


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