Dissecting the neuronal and neuromuscular circuits that regulate behavior remains a major challenge in biology. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has proven to be an invaluable model organism in helping to tackle this challenge, from inspiring technological approaches, building the human brain connectome, to actually shedding light on the specific molecular drivers of basic functional patterns. The bulk of the behavioral studies in C. elegans have been performed on solid substrates. In liquid, animals exhibit behavioral patterns that include movement at a range of speeds in 3D, as well as partial body movements, such as a posterior curl without anterior shape change, which introduce new challenges for quantitation. The steps of a simple procedure, and use of a software that enables high-resolution analysis of C. elegans swim behavior, are presented here. The software, named CeleST, uses a specialized computer program that tracks multiple animals simultaneously and provides novel measures of C. elegans locomotion in liquid (swimming). The measures are mostly grounded in animal posture and based on mathematics used in computer vision and pattern recognition, without computational requirements for threshold cut-offs. The software tool can be used to both assess overall swimming prowess in hundreds of animals from combined small batch trials and to reveal novel phenotypes even in well-characterized genetic mutants. The preparation of specimens for analysis with CeleST is simple and low-tech, enabling wide adaptation by the scientific community. Use of the computational approach described here should therefore contribute to the greater understanding of behavior and behavioral circuits in the C. elegans model.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- C. elegans
- Issue 118
- Swim behavior