Understanding how nematodes burrow will have many important applications beyond the basic understanding of one of the most widespread forms of locomotion:
Burrowing is a behavior that C. elegans shares with most parasitic nematodes. Understanding the genetic and neural basis of burrowing will lead to new strategies to prevent parasitic nematode infection of crops, livestock, and one in three humans.
Unlike other behaviors studied in the lab, burrowing allows us to physically challenge animals by making them burrow in substates of increasing densities. Our lab is now harnessing this approach to the study of neuromuscular diseases.