Sreekanth H. Chalasani
Molecular and Cellular Analysis of Behavior in C. elegans and Zebrafish
A central challenge in neuroscience is to understand how neural circuits in the brain transform environmental stimuli into appropriate behavioral outputs. Identification and functional characterization of each neuron within a circuit remains technically challenging in complex vertebrate brains, but invertebrate organisms offer the advantage of simpler, smaller nervous systems that nonetheless produce diverse and robust behaviors.
The nematode C. elegans provides a unique opportunity to study genes, neurons and neural circuit functions in the whole animals. Removal of food odors activates AWC chemosensory neurons and induces a locomotory search program. We apply a combination of genetics, functional imaging and behavioral analysis to study how this circuit regulates behavior.
We are also interested in extending these studies to the zebrafish larval model.