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Sci Rep. 2013 Sep 27;3:2777. doi: 10.1038/srep02777.

Density dependence in Caenorhabditis larval starvation.

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1] Boyce Thompson Institute and Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA [2] Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.


Availability of food is often a limiting factor in nature. Periods of food abundance are followed by times of famine, often in unpredictable patterns. Reliable information about the environment is a critical ingredient of successful survival strategy. One way to improve accuracy is to integrate information communicated by other organisms. To test whether such exchange of information may play a role in determining starvation survival strategies, we studied starvation of L1 larvae in C. elegans and other Caenorhabditis species. We found that some species in genus Caenorhabditis, including C. elegans, survive longer when starved at higher densities, while for others survival is independent of the density. The density effect is mediated by chemical signal(s) that worms release during starvation. This starvation survival signal is independent of ascarosides, a class of small molecules widely used in chemical communication of C. elegans and other nematodes.

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