Automated phenotyping of Caenorhabditis elegans embryos with a high-throughput-screening microfluidic platform

Huseyin Baris Atakan, Tunc Alkanat, Matteo Cornaglia, Raphaël Trouillon, Martin A.M. Gijs (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been extensively used as a model multicellular organism to study the influence of osmotic stress conditions and the toxicity of chemical compounds on developmental and motility-associated phenotypes. However, the several-day culture of nematodes needed for such studies has caused researchers to explore alternatives. In particular, C. elegans embryos, due to their shorter developmental time and immobile nature, could be exploited for this purpose, although usually their harvesting and handling is tedious. Here, we present a multiplexed, high-throughput and automated embryo phenotyping microfluidic approach to observe C. elegans embryogenesis after the application of different chemical compounds. After performing experiments with up to 800 embryos per chip and up to 12 h of time-lapsed imaging per embryo, the individual phenotypic developmental data were collected and analyzed through machine learning and image processing approaches. Our proof-of-concept platform indicates developmental lag and the induction of mitochondrial stress in embryos exposed to high doses (200 mM) of glucose and NaCl, while small doses of sucrose and glucose were shown to accelerate development. Overall, our new technique has potential for use in large-scale developmental biology studies and opens new avenues for very rapid high-throughput and high-content screening using C. elegans embryos.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Number of pages14
JournalMicrosystems & Nanoengineering
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work in the M.A.M.G. laboratory was supported by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the EU Ideas Program (ERC-2012-AdG-320404). We thank the staff of the Center for Micro-and Nanotechnology of EPFL for assistance with microfabrication processes and Prof. Johan Auwerx, Dr. Laurent Mouchiroud, and Dr. Alexandra Bezler for the fruitful discussion on C. elegans embryos. We also thank the Caenorhabditis Genetics Center, which is funded by the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (P40 OD010440), for providing the worm strains.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


Dive into the research topics of 'Automated phenotyping of Caenorhabditis elegans embryos with a high-throughput-screening microfluidic platform'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this