Can diet have a significant impact on the ability of organisms to sense and locate food? Focusing on the bacterial feeder Caenorhabditis elegans, we investigated what effect preconditioning on a range of bacterial substrates had on the subsequent chemotaxis process involved in the nematode locating other bacterial populations. Remarkably, we found that C. elegans, initially fed on a diet of Escherichia coli OP50, was significantly impaired in finding E. coli OP50 populations, compared to other available bacterial populations (P < 0.001). We found similar results for another bacterial feeding nematode species, suggesting that a general "substrate legacy" may operate across a wide range of organisms. We discuss this important finding with respect to the variation in response exhibited within a given nematode population, and the impact nematode migration has on bacterial dispersal in the environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Soil Science