High-throughput imaging of neuronal activity in Caenorhabditis elegans

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Nov 5;110(45):E4266-73. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1318325110. Epub 2013 Oct 21.


Neuronal responses to sensory inputs can vary based on genotype, development, experience, or stochastic factors. Existing neuronal recording techniques examine a single animal at a time, limiting understanding of the variability and range of potential responses. To scale up neuronal recordings, we here describe a system for simultaneous wide-field imaging of neuronal calcium activity from at least 20 Caenorhabditis elegans animals under precise microfluidic chemical stimulation. This increased experimental throughput was used to perform a systematic characterization of chemosensory neuron responses to multiple odors, odor concentrations, and temporal patterns, as well as responses to pharmacological manipulation. The system allowed recordings from sensory neurons and interneurons in freely moving animals, whose neuronal responses could be correlated with behavior. Wide-field imaging provides a tool for comprehensive circuit analysis with elevated throughput in C. elegans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques / methods
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Odorants
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Calcium