Determining how neurotransmitter input causes various neuronal activities is crucial to understanding neuronal information processing. In Caenorhabditis elegans, AIY interneurons receive several sources of sensory information as glutamate inputs and regulate behavior by integrating these inputs. However, the relationship between glutamate input and the Ca2+ response in AIY under environmental noise, in other words, without explicit stimulation, remains unknown. Here, we show that glutamate-input fluctuations evoke a sporadic Ca2+ response in AIY without stimulation. To ensure that Ca2+ response can be considered AIY output, we show that the membrane-potential depolarization precedes Ca2+ responses in AIY. We used an odor as model stimulation to modulate the sensory inputs. Simultaneous imaging of glutamate input and Ca2+ response, together with glutamate transmission mutants, showed that glutamate-input fluctuations evoke sporadic Ca2+ responses. We identified the input-output relationships under environmental noise in vivo, and our results address the relationship between sensory-input fluctuations and behavioral variability.
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