Effect of pulse direct current signals on electrotactic movement of nematodes Caenorhabditis elegans and Caenorhabditis briggsae
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The nematodes (worms) Caenorhabditiselegans and Caenorhabditisbriggsae are well-known model organisms to study the basis of animal development and behaviour. Their sinusoidal pattern of movement is highly stereotypic and serves as a tool to monitor defects in neurons and muscles that control movement. Until recently, a simple yet robust method to initiate movement response on-demand did not exist. We have found that the electrical stimulation in a microfluidic channel, using constant DC electric field, induces movement (termed electrotaxis) that is instantaneous, precise, sensitive, and fully penetrant. We have further characterized this behaviour and, in this paper, demonstrate that electrotaxis can also be induced using a pulse DC electric signal. Worms responded to pulse DC signals with as low as 30% duty cycle by moving towards the negative electrode at the same speed as constant DC fields (average speed of C. elegans = 296 ± 43 μm/s and C. briggsae = 356 ± 20 μm/s, for both constant and pulse DC electric fields with various frequencies). C. briggsae was found to be more sensitive to electric signals compared to C. elegans. We also investigated the turning response of worms to a change in the direction of constant and pulse DC signals. The response for constant DC signal was found to be instantaneous and similar for most worms. However, in the case of pulse DC signal, alterations in duty cycle affected the turning response time as well as the number of responding worms. Our findings show that pulse DC method allows quantitative measurement of response behaviour of worms and suggest that it could be used as a tool to study the neuronal basis of such a behaviour that is not observed under constant DC conditions.
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