Starvation promotes sensitivity to the paralytic agent, sodium azide, in C. elegans
Sigma Xi: 2015 Research Poster Presentation
Vikrum Jain, Ramez Sakkab
Faculty Mentors: Christelle Sabatier, Tracy Ruscetti
C. elegans nematodes must forage in the soil for their bacterial prety. Previous studies have shown that fed C. elegans are less active than starved C. elegans, and generally behave differently. We have developed an assay that quantifies the effect of starvation on C. elegans movement by measuring the amount of time that transpires before the paralytic sodium azide immobilizes the worm and the time it takes for the worm to recover its ability to move. The initial hypothesis was that starved C. elegans would take longer to immobilize due to their increased levels of mobility. The results contrasted with our initial hypothesis, as our calculated immobility indices suggest that well-fed worms are significantly less sensitive to anesthetic exposure, taking longer to immobilize and less time to recover. Because sodium azide induces skeletal muscle by inhibiting mitochondrial function, the lack of sensitivity to the paralytic may be an indication of lower ATP production in the skeletal muscles of starved worms. Further tests include colorimetric methods to compare muscle ATP levels for both well-fed and starved worms. In addition, this assay will be utilized to further study the effect of metabolites produced by the anaerobic bacterium, Clostridum innocuum. Our observations so far indicate that these metabolites dramatically impair C. elegans mobility.