Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Ponnambalam Ravi Selvaganapathy
Bhagwati P Gupta
Chan Y Ching
Small nematode model organisms such as Caenorhabditis elegans are widely used in the fields of neurobiology, toxicology, drug discovery, etc. They are advantageous due to their fully characterized genomic and cellular system. Traditional screening methods involve the exposure of animals to chemicals/drugs inside multiwell-plates while its effects on growth, movement and other cellular/sub-cellular processes are monitored by visual inspection. Yet, these methods are time-consuming, low-throughput, expensive, tedious, difficult to control, hard to modulate instantaneously, prone to subjectivity and not suitable for movement-based behavioural assays. Hence, a method to induce and to quantify movement on-demand in a rapid, sensitive, precise and reversible manner would greatly facilitate biological studies. In this thesis, microfluidic engineering approaches have been utilized in nematode-based assays due to their potential to obtain high precision measurements in a low-cost, rapid and automated manner. Movement response of worms to a diverse range of electric signals has been quantitatively characterized. DC and pulse-DC electric fields have been shown to stimulate worms’ swimming towards the negative electrode inside a microchannel (electrotaxis). AC electric fields were used to inhibit movement on-demand. Animals’ movement has been characterized in terms of speed and range of motion, body-bend frequency and turning time. Electrotaxis was shown to be mediated by neuronal activities and correlations between animal’s behaviour and neuronal signalling has also been demonstrated. Using this basic understanding, multiple microfluidic components such as position sensors and electric immobilizers have been developed. Electrotaxis has then been applied as a technique to sort worms in accordance to their size/age and phenotype as well as to perform drug screening at a single-animal level. Integration of the techniques and components developed during this research is expected to have a significant impact on the development of an integrated microfluidic platform for high throughput automated behavioural screening of nematodes with applications in drug discovery, toxicology, neurobiology and genetics.
Rezai, Pouya, "MICROFLUIDIC DEVICES FOR NEMATODE-BASED BEHAVIOURAL ASSAYS USING ELECTROTAXIS" (2012). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7574.
McMaster University Library
Available for download on Thursday, May 30, 2013
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