Module 4: Analyzing the Connectome of C. elegans

Faculty Contact: Jeff Moehlis

Research Areas:

Abstract: The millimeter-long C. elegans roundworm has had an oversize influence on science—it was the first multicellular organism to have its genome sequenced, and at least three Nobel Prizes have been awarded for research conducted on the little worm.  It is also the first organism to have its “connectome”—that is, its neuronal wiring diagram, which consists of about 300 neurons and 5000 connections—fully worked out. This training module will involve writing Matlab code to represent the connectome of the C. elegans, taking into account the different types of synaptic connections that occur.  Moreover, it will entail doing a network science analysis on this connectome, such as calculating statistical measures, identifying special nodes, considering how to reduce the connectome into simplified networks, etc.  Sorting out the connectome for the human brain—with its 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections—is still a long way away; in the meantime, there is still a lot to learn from the tiny C. elegans.

Active Quarters:

  • Spring 2015, Ayme Tomson and Axel Haaker