Understanding physical rules underlying collective motions requires perturbation of controllable parameters in self-propelled particles. However, controlling parameters in animals is generally not easy, which makes collective behaviours of animals elusive. Here, we report an experimental system in which a conventional model animal, Caenorhabditis elegans, collectively forms dynamical networks of bundle-shaped aggregates. We investigate the dependence of our experimental system on various extrinsic parameters (material of substrate, ambient humidity and density of worms). Taking advantage of well-established C. elegans genetics, we also control intrinsic parameters (genetically determined motility) by mutations and by forced neural activation via optogenetics. Furthermore, we develop a minimal agent-based model that reproduces the dynamical network formation and its dependence on the parameters, suggesting that the key factors are alignment of worms after collision and smooth turning. Our findings imply that the concepts of active matter physics may help us to understand biological functions of animal groups.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)