Wormometry-on-a-chip: Innovative technologies for in situ analysis of small multicellular organisms



Small multicellular organisms such as nematodes, fruit flies, clawed frogs, and zebrafish are emerging models for an increasing number of biomedical and environmental studies. They offer substantial advantages over cell lines and isolated tissues, providing analysis under normal physiological milieu of the whole organism. Many bioassays performed on these alternative animal models mirror with a high level of accuracy those performed on inherently low-throughput, costly, and ethically controversial mammalian models of human disease. Analysis of small model organisms in a high-throughput and high-content manner is, however, still a challenging task not easily susceptible to laboratory automation. In this context, recent advances in photonics, electronics, as well as material sciences have facilitated the emergence of miniaturized bioanalytical systems collectively known as Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC). These technologies combine micro- and nanoscale sciences, allowing the application of laminar fluid flow at ultralow volumes in spatially confined chip-based circuitry. LOC technologies are particularly advantageous for the development of a wide array of automated functionalities. The present work outlines the development of innovative miniaturized chip-based devices for the in situ analysis of small model organisms. We also introduce a new term “wormometry” to collectively distinguish these up-and-coming chip-based technologies that go far beyond the conventional meaning of the term “cytometry.” © 2011 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry