A simplified design for the C. elegans lifespan machine

J Biol Methods. 2020 Oct 26;7(4):e137. doi: 10.14440/jbm.2020.332. eCollection 2020.


Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) lifespan assays constitute a broadly used approach for investigating the fundamental biology of longevity. Traditional C. elegans lifespan assays require labor-intensive microscopic monitoring of individual animals to evaluate life/death over a period of weeks, making large-scale high throughput studies impractical. The lifespan machine developed by Stroustrup et al. (2013) adapted flatbed scanner technologies to contribute a major technical advance in the efficiency of C. elegans survival assays. Introducing a platform in which large portions of a lifespan assay are automated enabled longevity studies of a scope not possible with previous exclusively manual assays and facilitated novel discovery. Still, as initially described, constructing and operating scanner-based lifespan machines requires considerable effort and expertise. Here we report on design modifications that simplify construction, decrease cost, eliminate certain mechanical failures, and decrease assay workload requirements. The modifications we document should make the lifespan machine more accessible to interested laboratories.

Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans; aging; anti-aging interventions; automation; lifespan machine; longevity.