Measurements of behavioral quiescence in Caenorhabditis elegans

Methods. 2014 Aug 1;68(3):500-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2014.03.009. Epub 2014 Mar 15.


The nematode Caenorhabditis (C.) elegans, a long time work horse for behavioral genetic studies of locomotion, has recently been studied for quiescent behavior. Methods previously established for the study of C. elegans locomotion are not well-suited for the study of quiescent behavior. We describe in detail two computer vision approaches to distinguish quiescent from movement bouts focusing on the behavioral quiescence that occurs during fourth larval stage lethargus, a transition stage between the larva and the adult. The first is the frame subtraction method, which consists of subtraction of temporally adjacent images as a sensitive way to detect motion. The second, which is more computationally intensive, is the posture analysis method, which consists of analysis of the rate of local angle change of the animal's body. Quiescence measurements should be done continuously while minimizing sensory perturbation of the animal.

Keywords: Elegans; Lethargus; Machine vision; Molting; Quiescence; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Larva / genetics
  • Larva / physiology
  • Locomotion / genetics
  • Locomotion / physiology*