Measurement of the Effects of Metals on Taxis-to-Food Behavior in Caenorhabditis elegans

Libânia Queirós, Luana Monteiro, Carlos Marques, Joana L. Pereira, Fernando J.M. Gonçalves, Michael Aschner, Patrícia Pereira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Chemosensation in nematodes is linked to processes that affect their ability to survive, such as the search for food and the avoidance of toxic substances. Since the 1970s, numerous studies have assessed chemotaxis in the nematode species Caenorhabditis elegans, focusing on a multitude of agents, including bacteria (food), ions, salts, hormones, volatile organic compounds, and, to a lesser extent, metal-contaminated medium/food. The few studies evaluating metal exposure have reported a variety of responses (neutral, attraction, avoidance), which generally appear to be contaminant and/or concentration specific. Differences in experimental designs, however, hinder appropriate comparison of the findings and attainment of firm conclusions. Therefore, we herein propose and describe a detailed protocol for the assessment of the effects of metals on taxis-to-food behavior in C. elegans. Distinct approaches are proposed in two innovative stages of testing to (1) screen metals’ effects on taxis-to-food behavior and (2) classify the behavioral response as attraction/avoidance/indifference or preference. Use of such a standard protocol will allow for easy comparison across studies and direct interpretation of results. Findings using this model system can contribute to a deeper understanding of the real risks of metal contamination to nematodes and how such contaminants could impact ecosystems in general, given the key environmental roles that these organisms play.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere131
JournalCurrent Protocols
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • attraction
  • avoidance
  • chemotaxis
  • metals
  • preference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Health Informatics
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Medicine(all)


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