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.