BEHAVIORAL GENETICS LABORATORY

C. elegans has also been one of the most studied organisms in the world because of its use as a genetic model organism. In our lab we take advantage of these mutants and tools developed over decades and try to understand the complex ecological interaction between C. elegans and its environment, particularly its relationship with bacteria.

OUR LAB USES

the genetic model organism C. elegans to study several questions:


Ecology - How do nematodes interact with their natural environments?
Behavior - How does an organism use their sense of smell to navigate their environment? We explore the genetics of odor adaptation – a simple model for memory in the nematode – and other sensory behaviors.
Space - How does gravity affect development and behavior of an animal?
Learn basics about C. elegans here or at Wiki.














Learn more about our research here!!

RESEARCH

  • C. ELEGANS ECOLOGY

  • With the onset of the genomic era, a new opportunity to study ecology at the genetic level is just dawning. In the Lee lab we use C. elegans genetics to study how the worm interacts with its environment and other organisms at the gene level. Our ultimate goal is to understand how nematodes use their genes to gain fitness advantages in nature. We are studying C. elegans ecology at several levels:




  • 1. Interaction between C. elegans and bacteria

    C. elegans lives with and eats bacteria of all kinds. Along with providing nutrition for the worm, chemicals produced by the bacteria can affect C. elegans development, behavior and physiology. In our lab we are studying a bacterial metabolite called violacein produced by many types of bacteria. Violacein affects C. elegans biology by altering development and decreasing lifespan. We are investigating how violacein affects nematode biology at the genetic and cell biology level.


  • 2. C. elegans behavioral ecology

    C. elegans performs various sensory behaviors that allow worms to find food and avoid dangers in nature. C. elegans is most often found in rotting fruit and vegetation. In our lab, we are studying rotten fruit environments in which nematodes like C. elegans are found. For instance, we found nematodes living amongst lactic acid bacteria in yuzu fruit, a citrus fruit found in Korea. Using a combination of genetics, microbiology, and bio chemistry we showed that lactic acid bacteria produce the odor diacetyl when grown on yuzu fruit, an odor that worms are attracted to and can sense using the diacetyl odor receptor ODR-10. Thus, nematodes can track and follow odors produced by bacteria to find their next meal.


  • 3. Studying C. elegans in 3-D.

    In the lab C. elegans is cultivated on an agar plate, whereas in nature C. elegans lives in soil or rotten fruits. Thus, the worms’ natural habitat is three dimensional rather than a flat 2D world as in the lab. We developed a system in our lab to cultivate worms in 3D called NGT-3D to study C. elegans development and behavior in three dimensions. By using behavioral analysis and video technology, we are assessing worm behavior in 3D, and trying to relate these behaviors to reproductive fitness and evolution.

  • 4. C. elegans maternal behavior

    Maternal behaviors are important innate behaviors performed by mothers that increase the survival of its young. C. elegans mothers don’t actively care for their young, but they can control their egg laying. In adverse environments such as in the toxic bacterial metabolite violacein, mothers make the ultimate sacrifice by holding their eggs in their bodies resulting in internal hatching that leads to the their own death but survival of the young.

    In the normal laboratory plate culture of C. elegans, egg laying is a random process, with eggs laid haphazardly across a lawn of bacteria. But in a 3D culture of C. elegans, we find that mothers will spread out the bacteria to form a “nest” of bacteria, and the mother worms actively moves away from the bacteria to lay its eggs. Currently, we are finding the genes, molecules and circuitry that are ,affecting this behavior, and whether this behavior gives a fitness advantage in survival for the young.






  • C. ELEGANS IN SPACE

  • Our future may be beyond this planet. However, before we travel throughout the galaxy and colonize other planets, we must understand how environments outside our Earth’s atmosphere are affecting our biology. How do changes in gravity affect our bodies and development? We are currently performing experiments to understand how high or low gravity can affect C. elegans neuronal development and axon guidance. Using molecular biology and microscopy, we are finding that high gravity conditions can alter neuronal development in worms. Our question now is how can gravity affect axon development, synapse formation and aging. We are also beginning to assess how low gravity can affect neuron development using an instrument called a clinostat. Finally, we will send C. elegans into space aboard the International Space Station in 2018 to study the effect of space on neuron development. For more info on our spaceflight experiments in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), check out the following link: www.mme-spaceworms.com


  • C. ELEGANS ODOR BEHAVIOR

  • Worms may seem like simple organisms, but they can sense and remember many things such as cultivation temperature, toxic foods, and smells. In conjunction with Dr. Kyoung-hye Yoon’s lab at Yonsei University Wonju Medical College, we study what odors worms can smell, what factors like age can alter their sense of smell, and are identifying the odor receptors that are responsible for sensing the odors.

PUBLICATION

TITLE & DESCRIPTION WHO LINK
Odor-dependent temporal dynamics in Caenorhabitis elegans adaptation and aversive learning behavior
PeerJ. 2018 Jun 12;6:e4956. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4956
Choi JI, Lee HK, Kim HS, Park SY, Lee TY, Yoon KH, Lee JI https://peerj.com/articles/4956/

An Experimental and Theoretical Approach to Optimize a Three-Dimensional Clinostat for Life Science Experiments
Microgravity Science and Technology, 2017, 29 (1–2): 97–106
Kim SM, Kim H, Yang D, Park J, Park R, Namkoong S, Lee JI, Choi I, Kim HS, Kim H, Park J https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12217-016-9529-2

Cultivation of Caenorhabditis elegans in Three Dimensions in the Laboratory
JoVE, 2016 Dec 12;118: e55048, doi:10.3791/55048
Lee TY, Yoon KH, Lee JI http://www.jove.com/video/55048/cultivation-caenorhabditis-elegans-three-dimensions

Hypergravity hinders axonal development of motor neurons in Caenorhabditis elegans
PeerJ. 2016 Nov 3;4:e2666
Kalichamy SS, Lee TY, Yoon KH, Lee JI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27833821

NGT-3D: a simple nematode cultivation system to study Caenorhabditis elegans biology in 3D.
Biol Open. 2016 Apr 15;5(4):529-34
Lee TY, Yoon KH, Lee JI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26962047

A natural odor attraction between lactic acid bacteria and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans
ISME J. 2015 Aug 4. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2015.134
Choi JI, Yoon KH, Kalichamy SS, Yoon SS, Lee JI www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26241504

The anti-hypertensive drug reserpine induces neuronal cell death through inhibition of autophagic flux. Biochem Biophys Res Commun
2015 Jul 10;462(4):402-8
Lee KI, Kim MJ, Koh H, Lee JI, Namkoong S, Oh WK, Park J www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25976674
The integral membrane protein ITM2A, a transcriptional target of PKA-CREB, regulates autophagic flux via interaction with the vacuolar ATPase. Autophagy
2015;11(5):756-68
Namkoong S, Lee KI, Lee JI, Park R, Lee EJ, Jang IS, Park J www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25951193
Violacein: Properties and Production of a Versatile Bacterial Pigment Bio Med Res Intl.
2015 (2015), Article ID 465056, 8 pages
Seong Yeol Choi, Kyoung-hye Yoon, Jin Il Lee, and Robert J. Mitchell www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2015/465056/
A role for peroxidasin PXN-1 in aspects of C.elegans development. Mol Cells
2015 Jan 31;38(1):51-7
Lee J, Bandyopadhyay J, Lee JI, Cho I, Park D, Cho JH www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25475546
The multiple faces of calcineurin signaling in Caenorhabditis elegans: development, behaviour and aging. J Biosci.
2013 Jun;38(2):417-31
Lee JI, Mukherjee S, Yoon KH, Dwivedi M, Bandyopadhyay J www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23660677
Changes In cGMP levels affect the localization of EGL-4 in AWC neurons In Caenorhabditis elegans
2012 PLOS One 7(2):e31614
O’Halloran DM, Hamilton OS, Lee JI, Gallegos M, L’Etoile ND www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22319638
CNP-1(ARRD-17), a Novel Substrate of Calcineurin, Is Critical for Modulation of Egg-Laying and Locomotion in Response to Food and Lysine Sensation in Caenorhabditis elegans
2013 J Mol Biol 30;417(3):165-78
Jee C, Choi TW, Kalichamy K, Yee JZ, Song HO, Ji YJ, Lee J, Lee JI, L’etoile ND, Ahnn J, Lee SK www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22300764
Nuclear translocation of cGMP-dependent kinase EGL-4 switches transient into long-lasting olfactory adaptation in C. elegans
2010 Proc Natl Acad Sci 107(13):6016-21
Lee JI, O’Halloran DM, Eastham-Anderson JE, Juang B, Kaye JA, Hamilton OS, Goga A, L’Etoile ND www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20220099
Regulators of AWC-mediated olfactory plasticity in C. elegans
2009 PLoS Genet 5(12):e1000761
O’Halloran DM, Altshuler-Keylin S, Lee JI, L’Etoile ND www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20011101
Calcineurin in animal behaviors
2004 Mols Cells 30;17(3):390-396
Lee JI and Ahnn J www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15232211
Opposing functions of calcineurin and CaMKII regulate G-protein signaling in egg-laying behavior of C.elegans
2004 J Mol Biol. 2004 344:585-95
Lee J, Jee C, Song HO, Bandyopadhyay J, Lee JI, Yu JR, Lee J, Park BJ, Ahnn J www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15522306
SHN-1, a Shank homologue in C.elegans, affects defecation rhythm via the inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor
2004 FEBS Lett. 561:29-36
Jee C, Lee J, Lee JI, Lee WH, Park BJ, Yu JR, Park E, Kim E, Ahnn J www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15013747
The Caenorhabditis elegans homologue of Down syndrome critical region 1, RCN-1, inhibits multiple functions of the phosphatase calcineurin
2003 J Mol Biol 320:147-1566
Lee JI, Dhakal BK, Lee J, Bandyopadhyay J, Jeong SY, Eom SH, Kim DH, Ahnn J www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12684004
Calreticulin in C. elegans. In: Calreticulin, 2nd Edition, Eds: Eggleton P, Michalak Mn
2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers
Park BJ, Lee JI, Ahnn J link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4419-9258-1_22
Calcineurin, a calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein phosphatase, is involved in movement, fertility, egg-laying, and growth in Caenorhabditis elegans
2002 Mol Biol Cell 13:3281-3293
Bandyopadhyay J, Lee J, Lee J, Lee JI, Yu JR, Jee C, Cho JH, Jung S, Lee MH, Zannoni S, Singson A, Kim DH, Koo HS, Ahnn J www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12221132
A deubiquitinating enzyme, UCH/CeUBP130, has an essential role in the formation of a functional microtubule-organizing centre (MTOC) during early cleavage in C. elegans
2001 Genes Cells 6:899-911
Lee J, Jee C, Lee JI, Lee MH, Koo HS, Chung CH, Ahnn J www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12221132
Calreticulin, a calcium-binding molecular chaperone, is required for stress response and fertility in Caenorhabditis elegans
2001 Mol Biol Cell 12:2835-2845
Park BJ, Lee DG, Yu JR, Jung SK, Choi K, Lee J, Lee J, Kim YS, Lee JI, Kwon JY, Lee J, Singson A, Song WK, Eom SH, Park CS, Kim DH, Bandyopadhyay J, Ahnn J www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11553721

PRESENTATION

TITLE & DESCRIPTION WHO VENUE
Neuropeptide regulation of a putative maternal behavior in C. elegans cultivated in a 3D environment
Tong Young Lee 2018 Asia Pacific Worm Meeting, Seoul, Korea, Oral presentation

The Influence of Altering Gravity on Synaptogenesis of the D-type Motor Neurons in C. elegans
Alfredo Alcantara 2018 Neurons in C. elegans, Alfredo Alcantara

Hypergravity-induced axon defects in GABAergic motor neurons are suppressed by mutations in spectrin and spectrin-related proteins
Saraswathi Kalichamy 2018 Asia Pacific Worm Meeting, Seoul, Korea, Poster presentation

Aging and neuron development in the nematode C. elegans in spaceflight
Jin Lee 2018 Korean Microgravity Symposium, Daejeon, Korea, Oral presentation

Hypergravity effect on the development of GABAergic motor neurons in C. elegans
Jin Lee 11th Asian Microgravity Symposium 2016, Sapporo, Japan, Oral presentation

Hypergravity alters motor neuron development
Jin Lee 2018 Asia Pacific Worm Meeting, Seoul, Korea, Oral presentation

Effect of gravity on the development of motor neurons in C. elegans
Saraswathi Kalichamy 21st International C. elegans Conference 2017, Los Angeles, USA, Poster

Observing the pattern of C. elegans egg laying behaviors via 2D and 3D environment
Tong Young Lee 21st International C. elegans Conference 2017, Los Angeles, USA, Poster

Identifying novel odor-receptor pairs in C. elegans
Jae Im Choi 21st International C. elegans Conference 2017, Los Angeles, USA, Poster

Species-specific toxicity to the bactieral metabolite violacein in bacteriovorous nemaatodes is ameliorated by oleic acid
Kyoung-hye Yoon 21st International C. elegans Conference 2017, Los Angeles, USA, Poster

Hypergravity affects GABAergic motor neuron axon outgrowth in C. elegans
Saraswathi Kalichamy 2016 CeNeuro, Nagoya, Poster presentation

Examining novel C. elegans behaviors in 3D cultivation condtions
Tong Young Lee 2016 CeNeuro, Nagoya, Poster presentation

A bacterial metabolite alters fat metabolism and delays nematode growth and development
Jin Lee 7th Asia-Pacific C. elegans Meeting, Oral presentation

A nematode, fruit, probiotic bacteria, and the fragrance of diacetyl: A story of natural attraction
Jin Lee 2016 Seoul National University, Invited Speaker

Hypergravity induces axon outgrowth defects in GABAergic motor neurons
Jin Lee 2016 Korean Microgravity Society Symposium, Inha University, Invited Speaker

Olfaction: From Nature to the Nose and to Behavior
Jin Lee 2016 26th Yonsei Rhinology Symposium, Yonsei University, Seoul, Invited Speaker

A bacterial metabolite alters fat metabolism and delays nematode growth and development
Kyoung-hye Yoon 2016 European Worm Meeting, Berlin, Germany, Poster presentation

The bacterial metabolite violacein affects C. elegans growth and behavior
Tong Young Lee 2016 22nd Korean C. elegans Meeting, Daemyung Vivaldi Park, Korea, Oral Presentation

A simple 3D cultivation system to measure C. elegans fitness in a semi-natural simulated environment
Jin Lee 2015 8th Korean Model Organism Symposium, KRIBB, Daejeon, Invited Speaker

A nematode, fruit, probiotic bacteria, and the fragrance of diacetyl
: A story of natural attraction
Jin Lee 2015 Yonsei University Biocamp, Interburgo Hotel, Wonju, Invited Speaker

C. elegans in Fruit and Outer Space: Studying a Soil Nematode At The Fringes of Biology
Jin Lee 2015 International Conference on the Integration of Science, Technology and Society, KAIST, Daejeon, Invited Speaker

The diacetyl receptor ODR-10 mediates a natural odor attraction between
C. elegans and lactic acid bacteria grown on citrus fruit
Jin Lee 2015 20th International C. elegans Meeting, Ecology and Evolution parallel session, UCLA, LA

Effects of hypergravity on motor neuron development in C. elegans
Jin Lee 2015 Dong-A University, Busan, Invited Speaker

The bacterial metabolite violacein affects C. elegans growth and behavior
Kyoung-hye Yoon 2015 22nd Korean C. elegans Meeting, Daemyung Vivaldi Park, Korea, Oral Presentation

The bacterial secondary metabolite violacein affects C. elegans development, fecundity and behavior
Kyoung-hye Yoon 2015 20th International C. elegans Meeting, UCLA, Los Angeles, Poster Presentation

A simple 3D cultivation system to measure C. elegans fitness in a semi-natural simulated environment
Tong Young Lee 2015 20th International C. elegans Meeting, UCLA, Los Angeles, Poster Presentation

Hypergravity affects motor neuron development in C. elegans
Saraswathi Kalichamy 2015 20th International C. elegans Meeting, UCLA, Los Angeles, Poster Presentation

A natural odor attraction between C. elegans and Lactobacillus strains
Jae Im Choi 2015 22nd Korean C. elegans Meeting, Daemyung Vivaldi Park, Korea, Oral Presentation

A soil nematode, citrus fruit, probiotic bacteria, and the odor diacetyl: A story of natural attraction
Jin Lee 2014 Ewha Womens University, Seoul, Invited Speaker

C. elegans ecology and behavior: bringing nature into the laboratory
Jin Lee 2014 Hallym University, Chuncheon, Invited Speaker

Mechanisms of gravity perception and gravitaxis behavior using the nematode C. elegans
Jin Lee 2014 Korean Space Biology Research Conference, Chungnam University, Daejeon Invited Speaker

C. elegans ecology and behavior: bringing nature into the laboratory
Jin Lee 2014 Yonsei University, Department of Systems Biology, Seoul, Invited Speaker

C. elegans ecology and behavior: bringing nature into the laboratory
Jin Lee 2014 Yonsei University Medical School, Wonju, Invited Speaker

The bacterial metabolite violacein affects C. elegans development, fertility and behavior
Kyoung-hye Yoon 2014 July 17th, 6th Asia-Pacific C. elegans Meeting, Nara, Japan, Poster Presentation

Gravity perception and gravitaxis behavior in C. elegans
Tong Young Lee 2014 July 17th, 6th Asia-Pacific C. elegans Meeting, Nara, Japan, Poster Presentation

Gravity perception and gravitaxis behavior in C. elegans
Tong Young Lee 2014 Oct 29th, 10th Asian Microgravity Symposium, Seoul, Korea, Poster Presentation

MEMBERS


Meet the entire team!

  • Jin Lee
  • Principal Investigator
  • Born and raised in New York, Jin studied neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University. After working at an environmental company for a couple of years, he moved to Korea and pursued a masters in biology at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology. There he worked in the lab of Dr. Joohong Ahnn where he first met C. elegans. It was love at first sight. Jin continued his work in C. elegans in the lab of Dr. Noelle L’Etoile at UC Davis, where he studied the mechanisms of olfactory adaptation behavior. After graduating with his PhD, he moved to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to work with Dr. Linda Buck. There he worked on both C. elegans and mice. In 2013, Jin joined the faculty of Yonsei University in the Divison of Biological Science and Technology in Wonju where he teaches developmental biology, behavioral biology, and general biology, as well as studying the worm. Jin’s interests are music (his old Takamine guitar and his Yamaha S90 keyboard), a love/hate obsession with everything Red Sox (yes, he is a New Yorker), and playing video games with his two daughters.

    jinillee@yonsei.ac.kr
  • Saraswathi Kalichamy
  • Ph.D student
  • M.S. Bharathiar University
    B.S. Bharathiar University


    Born in Coimbatore city of Tamil Nadu state in India. Graduated Bachelor degree in Biochemistry from Kongunadu Arts and Science College, under affliated Bharathiar University. After then she had completed her Master’s degree in Biotechnology from Bharathiar University and studied Archaeal diversity from human simulated digesters using Metagenomic approach. She joined the lab in 2014, and works on natural odors
  • Tong-young lee
  • Ph.D student
  • B.S. Yonsei University, Wonju

    Tong Young was born in Seoul and raised in Korea. In 2014, he graduated from the Department of Biological Science and Technology at Yonsei University with his BS, and now is continuing graduated studies in the same department. Currently he’s designing new 3D worm environments, and studying the development and behavior of worms living in three dimensions. Tong Young enjoys playing video games on his iPhone and his PSP.
  • Alfredo Alcantara Jr.
  • MS/Ph.D student
  • B.S. Cavite State University

    Alfred comes to Korea via the Philippines where he graduated with his bachelors at Cavite State University in biology. He then worked for a couple years as a Researcher and QC analyst at a pharmaceutical company. He’s currently an MS/PhD student, and is studying the effects of high and low gravity on synapse formation and aging. In addition, he’s preparing experiments for our lab’s first venture into space in November aboard the International Space Station. In his spare time he collects and builds Gundam model kits.
  • Je-hyun Moon
  • Ph.D student
  • B.S. Yonsei University, Wonju

    Je-hyun graduated from Yonsei University Wonju majoring in Biological Sciences, and now will continue his studies as an MS/PhD student. He is studying odor behaviors in worms. He’s also an avid NBA basketball watcher, rooting for the Warriors and Lakers (is this even possible?). I asked him if he likes to hop on bandwagons in his spare time, but he refuses to answer.
  • Kyoung-hye Yoon
  • Collaborator
  • Yonsei University Wonju Medical College

    Our lab works closely with Dr. Yoon’s lab at the Medical School campus, where we jointly work on C. elegans odor behaviors. Her lab also studies the central regulation of metabolic and cellular processes related to aging.

AND OUR FORMER STUDENTS

  • Nagendran Tharmalingam

    Visiting PhD student
    (currently at Mylonakis lab,
    Brown University)
  • Jae-im Choi

    Masters student
    (currently at Yonsei University
    Wonju Severance Hospital,
    Wonju, Korea)
  • Heekyung Lee

    Undergraduate
    (currently a Ph.D student at
    Yonsei Wonju Medical College)
  • Min-Hoo Shim

    Undergraduate
    (currently graduate student at
    Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea)
  • Saebom Kwon

    Undergraduate
    (currently a Ph.D student at
    Yonsei Wonju Medical College)
  • Cheol-Woon Woo

    Undergraduate
    (currently graduate student at
    Seoul University)
  • Jin-sun Lee

    Masters student
    (Currently a MS student at
    Yonsei University Division of
    Biological Science,Wonju, Korea)
  • Euisun Pyo

    visiting Masters student
    (currently graduate student at
    Seoul University)
  • Hwa-jeong Lee

    Undergraduate
  • Jin-hwa Jeong

    Undergraduate
  • Se-young Yoo

    Undergraduate
  • Hae-su Kim

    Undergraduate
  • Se-young Park

    Undergraduate
  • Chan Kim

    Undergraduate

JOIN THE LAB!































Want to join our lab?



We are always looking for excellent scientists who are interested in joining our team. Yonsei University, Wonju campus is located in Wonju, the largest city in the Gangwon province located 1.5 hours east of Seoul. Full scholarship and housing programs are available for foreign masters and doctorate students at Yonsei University.

Please contact us at jinillee@yonsei.ac.kr