Biophysics Seminar Series - David Biron (U.Chicago) "Worm sleep: a universal behavior meets a simple model system"

Feb 17, 2014, 12:00 pm1:00 pm
Joseph Henry Room


Event Description
All animals sleep, or do they? This question remains controversial. If sleep is truly universal to the animal kingdom then even the simplest animal should sleep, and may offer valuable clues regarding the origin and core function of sleep (or perhaps provide insight by being an exception to the rule). The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans develops through four larval stages before it reaches adulthood. At the transition between stages and before it molts, i.e., synthesizes a new cuticle and sheds the old one, it exhibits a quiescent state termed lethargus. In a seminal paper in 2008, David Raizen demonstrated that lethargus bears several similarities to sleep. The talk will focus on behavioral (rather than genetic) aspects of lethargus, measured over developmental timescales, and on establishing C. elegans as a model system for sleep and sleep homeostasis. From a broader, and as of yet more speculative perspective, this work may provide yet another example of universal constraints that the developmental origins of a biological phenomena can impose. It may therefore support the idea that development can provide key insight into universality in biology.
Lunch is served at 11:45, talk begins at 12:00.