Longitudinal imaging of Caenorhabditis elegans in a microfabricated device reveals variation in behavioral decline during aging

Elife. 2017 May 31;6:e26652. doi: 10.7554/eLife.26652.


The roundworm C. elegans is a mainstay of aging research due to its short lifespan and easily manipulable genetics. Current, widely used methods for long-term measurement of C. elegans are limited by low throughput and the difficulty of performing longitudinal monitoring of aging phenotypes. Here we describe the WorMotel, a microfabricated device for long-term cultivation and automated longitudinal imaging of large numbers of C. elegans confined to individual wells. Using the WorMotel, we find that short-lived and long-lived strains exhibit patterns of behavioral decline that do not temporally scale between individuals or populations, but rather resemble the shortest and longest lived individuals in a wild type population. We also find that behavioral trajectories of worms subject to oxidative stress resemble trajectories observed during aging. Our method is a powerful and scalable tool for analysis of C. elegans behavior and aging.

Keywords: C. elegans; WorMotel; aging; behavior; chromosomes; genes; healthspan; lifespan; neuroscience; stress resistance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Optical Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Optical Imaging / methods*
  • Parasitology / instrumentation
  • Parasitology / methods
  • Phenotype