In many species, individual social animals interact with others in their group and change their collective behaviours. For the solitary nematode Caenorhabditis elegans strain N2, previous research suggests that individuals can change the behaviour of other worms via pheromones and mechanosensory interactions. In particular, pheromones affect foraging behaviour, so that the chemotactic behaviours of individuals in a group (population) can be modulated by interactions with other individuals in the population. To investigate this, we directly compared the chemotactic behaviours of isolated (single) worms with those of individual animals within a population. We found that worms approached an odour source in a distinct manner depending on whether they were alone or in a population. Analysis of behaviours of the N2 worm and a pheromone production-defective mutant revealed that the 'pirouette' strategy was modulated by interaction of the worms via pheromones. Thus, pheromones play an important role in the characteristic collective behaviours seen in the population condition.
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