High-throughput behavioral analysis in C. elegans

Nat Methods. 2011 Jun 5;8(7):592-8. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1625.


We designed a real-time computer vision system, the Multi-Worm Tracker (MWT), which can simultaneously quantify the behavior of dozens of Caenorhabditis elegans on a Petri plate at video rates. We examined three traditional behavioral paradigms using this system: spontaneous movement on food, where the behavior changes over tens of minutes; chemotaxis, where turning events must be detected accurately to determine strategy; and habituation of response to tap, where the response is stochastic and changes over time. In each case, manual analysis or automated single-worm tracking would be tedious and time-consuming, but the MWT system allowed rapid quantification of behavior with minimal human effort. Thus, this system will enable large-scale forward and reverse genetic screens for complex behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Chemotaxis
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Movement
  • Software*
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Time Factors