Caenorhabditis Elegans Research
Caenorhabditis. elegans is a small, transparent, free-living roundworm with an adult length of about 1 mm. They are easy to maintain in the laboratory and have a relatively short life cycle. C. elegans has a fully sequenced genome and is therefore a pioneer in genetic techniques such as genetic mapping, fluorescent protein expression and RNA interference. It also has a variety of mechanically sensitive neurons and responds to mechanical stimuli by changing the crawling direction, making it useful for mechanobiology research.
Due to the advantages of these characteristics, the nematode C. elegans has been widely used as a tool to solve basic problems in developmental biology, neurobiology and behavior.
Challenges in Caenorhabditis Elegans Research
- It requires manual execution of many steps and is very time-consuming.
- In some cases, manually selecting worms can take hours, reducing efficiency and throughput.
- It depends on the skill of the operator, so it increases the risk of cross-contamination and reduces the repeatability of the experiment.
- The measurement value is usually read from the overall average. The difference between worms may affect the average response.
C. Elegans Research in Microfluidic Devices
"Microfluidics" provides solutions for routine laboratory procedures and experiments for specific cases. Alfa Chemistry has accumulated many years of experience in the design and manufacture of PDMS biochips for C. elegans research. Please contact us to discuss your research project on C. elegans.
Microfluidic Devices Based on Microchannels
Microchannel technology is the most basic and most commonly used technology in the study of nematode microfluidics. Biocompatible PDMS biochips are usually used to produce microchannels, which are suitable for the treatment and cultivation of C. elegans.
The use of soft microlithography technology can easily produce complex microchannels integrating multiple functional units for fixation, culture, controllable stimulation, observation, screening and imaging of C. elegans. Microporous technology can be used to fix nematodes to study their internal structure and take high-resolution images, and the ability of high-throughput screening increases with the number of channels.
Figure.1 Microfluidic devices based on microchannels. (A) The microfluidic platform for automated high-content phenotyping of C. elegans. (B) Microfluidic device consisting of an inlet, a flow velocity generator and a center chamber for the injection of C. elegans. (C)The device with the eight-channel chip, which had an additional side channel. (D) The device containing 64 sinusoidal worm channels and 15 control channels. (Zhang X. J, et al. 2021)
Microfluidic Devices Based on Microchannels
The droplet microfluidic chip is a new technology platform in biological research, which has been widely used in the research of Caenorhabditis elegans in recent years. The unique micro-size characteristics of the droplets match the size of the nematode. With the flexible design and large-scale integration of the chip, the droplet microfluidic device can be used as a microreactor to achieve rapid mixing, which is suitable for high-throughput and high-content drug screening.
L1 worms are small and flexible, making them difficult to study. Heat-sensitive hydrogel droplets can be used to wrap L1 nematodes, and the state of the hydrogel can be changed by increasing/decreasing the temperature to control the rash movement and fixation of C. elegans. We use microfluidic chips for generation, storage, and fixation to capture images and classify droplets that wrap individual worms.
Figure.2 Microfluidic devices based on droplets. (A) A continuous-flow, high-throughput, and automated C. elegans analyzer. (B) Droplet array platform for screening acute behavioral responses of C. elegans to chemical stimulation. (Zhang X. J, et al. 2021)
In addition to manipulating individual nematodes for precise stimulation, more and more research is also focusing on designing droplet arrays to improve experimental throughput. There have been many studies using droplet arrays to detect the behavioral characteristics of C. elegans.
- Zhang X. J, et al. (2021). "Advances in C. Elegans Behavior Research with Microfluidic Devices and Its Future Prospects in the Evaluation of Exogenous Pollutants." TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry. 136: 116195.
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