A robotic platform for fully automated ageing studies in C. elegans

Elena Katsyuba, Morgane Bourgeois, Lazar Stojkovic, Fabien Tâche, Matteo Cornaglia, Laurent Mouchiroud.

24th International C. elegans Conference


C. elegans is a powerful model organism for ageing studies. However, the traditional protocols, which continue to be broadly used, rely on manual handling, making them labor-intensive and time-consuming. Automation of these processes would greatly benefit long-term studies of C. elegans. Significant progress has been achieved over the past decade in the techniques to study worm’s biology: the introduction of microfluidic approaches for different assay types and the use of machine learning-based algorithms for data processing offer an increase in experimental throughput and a better control of experimental conditions.We propose here a novel solution for automated ageing studies in C. elegans, which involves these new methodologies. Our microfluidic-based robotic platform is capable to fully automate all the key aspects of C. elegans experimentation, including worm culture, treatment, imaging, as well as data recording and analysis. The unique characteristics of the platform allow ageing studies on multiple worm populations in parallel that go beyond a simple tracing of the survival curves. We present here a panel of standardized bioassays allowing automated: (1) monitoring of C. elegans lifespan, (2) assessment of worm fitness, (3) testing of different stress responses activation.The performance of the assays was corroborated by testing benchmark compounds known to affect C. elegans longevity. While the results obtained with our platform were consistent with the results obtained with conventional “manual” methods on plates, the use of microfluidic chips significantly reduced the consumption of test compounds, and fully automated imaging process and data analysis software significantly reduced the number of man-hours required for such study.