Temperature-robust food-sensing in a multi-neuron gene network that modulates ageing

QueeLim Ch'ng (primary)
Developmental Neurobiology
Chris Barnes (secondary)
Cell and Developmental Biology


The brain plays a central role in food-sensing but how it maintains these functions despite environmental fluctuations is unexplored, representing fundamental questions in genetics, physiology, neuroscience, and systems biology. We investigate how a C. elegans neural network can discriminate between food levels to modulate ageing across a large temperature range. This sensory network is particularly interesting because it uses gene activity to encode food and its connectivity changes with temperature. These novel forms of neural computations support temperature-robust food-sensing. We will combine high-throughput microscopy, advanced genetic, and modelling to study temperature-dependent plasticity in network connectivity and its impact on robustness.


Diana G., Patel D. S., Entchev E. V., Zhan M., Lu H., and Ch’ng Q. (2017) Genetic control of encoding strategy in a food-sensing neural circuit. eLife 2017;6:e24040

Zhan M., Crane M. M., Entchev E. V., Caballero A., Fernandes de Abreu D., Ch’ng Q, and Lu H. (2015) Automated Processing of Imaging Data Through Multi-Tiered Classification of Biological Structures Illustrated Using Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS Comp Biol 24;11(4):e1004194. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004194

Entchev E. V., Patel D. S., Zhan M., Steele A, Lu H. and Ch’ng Q. (2015) A Gene-Expression-Based Neural Code for Food Abundance that Mediates Dietary Effects on Lifespan. eLife 4:e06259

Fernandes de Abreu D., Caballero A., Fardel P., Stroustrup N., Chen Z., Lee K., Keyes W. D., Nash Z. M., López-Moyado I. F., Vaggi F., Cornils A., Regenass M., Neagu A., Ostojic I., Chang L., Cho Y., Sifoglu D., Shen Y., Fontana W., Lu H., Csikasz-Nagy A., Murphy C., Antebi A., Blanc E., Apfeld J., Zhang Y., Alcedo J. and Ch’ng Q. (2014) An Insulin-to-Insulin Regulatory Network Orchestrates Phenotypic Specificity in Development and Physiology. PLoS Genet, 10(3):e1004225. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004225.

Genes, development and STEM* approaches to biology
Area of Biology
Techniques & Approaches
EngineeringGeneticsImage ProcessingMathematics / StatisticsMicroscopy / ElectrophysiologyMolecular BiologySimulation / Modelling