Dr Birgitta Olofsson


How does an animal evaluate food and how is this information used to modify its feeding behaviour appropriately?

In many animals food provides a reinforcing feedback after it is eaten that influences subsequent food-seeking behaviour. Variation in the nutritive value associated with different food sources forces animals to make choices whether to dwell locally on a poor food patch or roam more widely in search of better food. The molecular basis for this behavioural plasticity is poorly understood. We use the simple soil nematode C. elegans to address this question. C. elegans integrates past experience to choose food that best supports its growth and to avoid harmful or low quality food. We are particularly interested in how C.elegans senses its nutritional state and how this information is relayed to the nervous system to modify foraging behaviour.

Research Focus


C. elegans

feeding behaviour

nutritional state

adversive response

neural circuit

Clinical conditions

Eating disorders


Behavioural analysis



Mario de Bono

Associated News Items

    Key publications

    Milward K, Busch KE, Murphy RJ, de Bono M, Olofsson B (2011), “Neuronal and molecular substrates for optimal foraging in Caenorhabditis elegans.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108(51):20672-7 Details



    Olofsson B (2014), “The olfactory neuron AWC promotes avoidance of normally palatable food following chronic dietary restriction.” J Exp Biol 217(Pt 10):1790-8 Details


    Cohen M, Reale V, Olofsson B, Knights A, Evans P, de Bono M (2009), “Coordinated regulation of foraging and metabolism in C. elegans by RFamide neuropeptide signaling.” Cell Metab 9(4):375-85 Details


    Olofsson B, de Bono M (2008), “Sleep: dozy worms and sleepy flies.” Curr Biol 18(5):R204-6 Details

    Page DT, Olofsson B (2008), “Multiple roles for apoptosis facilitating condensation of the Drosophila ventral nerve cord.” Genesis 46(2):61-8 Details


    Olofsson B, Page DT (2005), “Condensation of the central nervous system in embryonic Drosophila is inhibited by blocking hemocyte migration or neural activity.” Dev Biol 279(1):233-43 Details


    Ober EA, Olofsson B, Mäkinen T, Jin SW, Shoji W, Koh GY, Alitalo K, Stainier DY (2004), “Vegfc is required for vascular development and endoderm morphogenesis in zebrafish.” EMBO Rep 5(1):78-84 Details