Locomotory behavior (motility) and mechanosensation are of vital importance in animals. We examined the effects of ionizing radiation (IR) on locomotory behavior and mechanosensation using a model organism, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Bacterial mechanosensation in C. elegans induces the dopamine-mediated slowing of locomotion in the presence of bacteria (food), known as the basal slowing response. We previously reported an IR-induced reduction of locomotory rate in the absence of food. In the present study, we observed a similar IR-induced reduction of locomotory rate in the cat-2 mutant, which is defective in bacterial mechanosensation. The dose response pattern of the locomotory rate in the presence of food was relatively flat in wild-type animals, but not in cat-2 mutants. This suggests that the dopamine system, which is related to bacterial mechanosensation in C. elegans, might have a dominant effect on locomotory rate in the presence of food, which masks the effects of other stimuli. Moreover, we found that the behavioral responses of hydrogen peroxide-exposed wild-type animals are similar to those of IR-exposed animals. Our findings suggest that the IR-induced reduction of locomotory rate in the absence of food is mediated by a different pathway from that for bacterial mechanosensation, at least partially through IR-produced hydrogen peroxide.
2009 by Journal of Radiation Research Editorial Committee