• Open Access

WormFarm: a quantitative control and measurement device toward automated Caenorhabditis elegans aging analysis

Authors

  • Bo Xian,

    1. CAS Key Laboratory for Computational Biology, CAS-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
    2. Center for Molecular Systems Biology, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.
  • Jie Shen,

    1. College of Engineering and Biodynamic Optical Imaging Center (BIOPIC), Peking University, Beijing, China
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.
  • Weiyang Chen,

    1. CAS Key Laboratory for Computational Biology, CAS-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.
  • Na Sun,

    1. CAS Key Laboratory for Computational Biology, CAS-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
    2. Center for Molecular Systems Biology, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Nan Qiao,

    1. CAS Key Laboratory for Computational Biology, CAS-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
    2. Center for Molecular Systems Biology, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Dongqing Jiang,

    1. College of Engineering and Biodynamic Optical Imaging Center (BIOPIC), Peking University, Beijing, China
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  • Tao Yu,

    1. CAS Key Laboratory for Computational Biology, CAS-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
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  • Yongfan Men,

    1. College of Engineering and Biodynamic Optical Imaging Center (BIOPIC), Peking University, Beijing, China
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  • Zhijun Han,

    1. CAS Key Laboratory for Computational Biology, CAS-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
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  • Yuhong Pang,

    1. College of Engineering and Biodynamic Optical Imaging Center (BIOPIC), Peking University, Beijing, China
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  • Matt Kaeberlein,

    1. Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
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  • Yanyi Huang,

    Corresponding author
    1. College of Engineering and Biodynamic Optical Imaging Center (BIOPIC), Peking University, Beijing, China
    • CAS Key Laboratory for Computational Biology, CAS-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
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  • Jing-Dong J. Han

    Corresponding author
    • CAS Key Laboratory for Computational Biology, CAS-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
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Correspondence

Jing-Dong J. Han, CAS Key Laboratory for Computational Biology, CAS-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 320 Yueyang Road, Shanghai, 200031, China. Tel.: 86 21 54920458; fax: 86 21 54920504; e-mail: jdhan@picb.ac.cn

or

Yanyi Huang, College of Engineering, and Biodynamic Optical Imaging Center (BIOPIC), Peking University, Beijing, 100871, China. Tel.: 86 10 62758323; fax: 86 10 62758323; e-mail: yanyi@pku.edu.cn

Summary

Caenorhabditis elegans is a leading model organism for studying the basic mechanisms of aging. Progress has been limited, however, by the lack of an automated system for quantitative analysis of longevity and mean lifespan. To address this barrier, we developed ‘WormFarm’, an integrated microfluidic device for culturing nematodes. Cohorts of 30–50 animals are maintained throughout their lifespan in each of eight separate chambers on a single WormFarm polydimethylsiloxane chip. Design features allow for automated removal of progeny and efficient control of environmental conditions. In addition, we have developed computational algorithms for automated analysis of video footage to quantitate survival and other phenotypes, such as body size and motility. As proof-of-principle, we show here that WormFarm successfully recapitulates survival data obtained from a standard plate-based assay for both RNAi-mediated and dietary-induced changes in lifespan. Further, using a fluorescent reporter in conjunction with WormFarm, we report an age-associated decrease in fluorescent intensity of GFP in transgenic worms expressing GFP tagged with a mitochondrial import signal under the control of the myo-3 promoter. This marker may therefore serve as a useful biomarker of biological age and aging rate.

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