"The purpose of this project is to understand the basic mechanisms of neural control of undulatory locomotion in C. elegans worms. This will be achieved by a combination of mathematical modeling, quantitative behavioral tracking, and molecular/cellular neurogenetic manipulations. C. elegans worms move by generating an oscillatory neuromuscular wave that alternates dorsal and ventral muscles and propagates along the body. The molecular, cellular, and network level mechanisms of this oscillatory spatio-temporal activity are virtually unknown. Their understanding may provide insight about the relationship between neuromuscular dynamics and how behavior is created in these extensively genetically studied animals, and might be relevant for more ""advanced"" animals with more complex nervous system. The project is conceptually composed of two parts. In the first part we want to investigate questions related to the mechanisms controlling body undulations and coordination. In the second part we want to study behavioral transitions between forward and backward motion. The experimental part of the project, composed of genetic and neural manipulations and quantitative behavioral tracking of worms, will be conducted at the California Institute of Technology in the molecular biology lab of Prof. Paul W. Sternberg. The theoretical part, composed of statistical analysis of the data and large-scale computer simulations of the neural network of C. elegans relevant for locomotion, will be conducted at host institution, i.e. in the IPPT PAN in Warsaw, mainly by the proposal coordinator."
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