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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33483. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033483. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

WormScan: a technique for high-throughput phenotypic analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St. Lucia Campus, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There are four main phenotypes that are assessed in whole organism studies of Caenorhabditis elegans; mortality, movement, fecundity and size. Procedures have been developed that focus on the digital analysis of some, but not all of these phenotypes and may be limited by expense and limited throughput. We have developed WormScan, an automated image acquisition system that allows quantitative analysis of each of these four phenotypes on standard NGM plates seeded with E. coli. This system is very easy to implement and has the capacity to be used in high-throughput analysis.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

Our system employs a readily available consumer grade flatbed scanner. The method uses light stimulus from the scanner rather than physical stimulus to induce movement. With two sequential scans it is possible to quantify the induced phototactic response. To demonstrate the utility of the method, we measured the phenotypic response of C. elegans to phosphine gas exposure. We found that stimulation of movement by the light of the scanner was equivalent to physical stimulation for the determination of mortality. WormScan also provided a quantitative assessment of health for the survivors. Habituation from light stimulation of continuous scans was similar to habituation caused by physical stimulus.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

There are existing systems for the automated phenotypic data collection of C. elegans. The specific advantages of our method over existing systems are high-throughput assessment of a greater range of phenotypic endpoints including determination of mortality and quantification of the mobility of survivors. Our system is also inexpensive and very easy to implement. Even though we have focused on demonstrating the usefulness of WormScan in toxicology, it can be used in a wide range of additional C. elegans studies including lifespan determination, development, pathology and behavior. Moreover, we have even adapted the method to study other species of similar dimensions.

PMID:
22457766
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3311640
Free PMC Article

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