1. Neuroscience
Download icon

Magnetosensation: Finding a worm's internal compass

  1. Catharine H Rankin  Is a corresponding author
  2. Conny H Lin
  1. University of British Columbia, Canada
Cite this article as: eLife 2015;4:e09666 doi: 10.7554/eLife.09666
1 figure


Magnetotaxis in C. elegans. (A) Worms in the soil migrate upwards at an angle of approximately 132° to the local magnetic field lines (blue lines) in Bristol, UK, perhaps towards the rotting fruits and vegetation on the Earth's surface (Vidal-Gadea et al., 2015).

Hungry worms migrate downwards, perhaps towards bacteria near tree roots. (B). Magnetotaxis in C. elegans requires a pair of neurons called the AFD neurons (shown in red), which are located in the head region of the worm (Altun, 2015). (C) AFD neurons wrap around the pharynx (dark grey) and then project towards the nose region. (D) The brush-like dendrites at the tip of the AFD neurons are composed of a single cilium and multiple microvilli embedded in a sheath cell just beneath the outer surface of the worm, known as the cuticle (stylized drawing adopted from Perkins et al. (1986); for the actual structure see the electron microscopy reconstruction in Doroquez et al. (2014)). Vidal-Gadea et al. found that an ion channel protein called TAX-4 (green) is required for magnetotaxis. This protein was previously found to be expressed at the base of the AFD cilium (Nguyen et al., 2014).


Download links

A two-part list of links to download the article, or parts of the article, in various formats.

Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)

Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)

Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)