Title: Force pattern characterisation of Caenorhabditis elegans in motion

Authors: Ali Ghanbari, Volker Nock, Richard Blaikie, J. Geoffrey Chase, XiaoQi Chen, Christopher E. Hann, Wenhui Wang

Addresses: Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. ' MacDiarmid Institute, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. ' MacDiarmid Institute, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. ' Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. ' Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. ' Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. ' Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand

Abstract: Caenorhabditis elegans is a worm that could be mutated to have different muscle arms, which may generate distinct force patterns when the worm moves. In this paper, an integrated system employing both a novel PDMS device and a visual feedback from the device is reported. The silicone elastomer-based PDMS device consists of arrays of pillars, which form open channels for the worm to move in and bend the pillars in contact. Enabled by a single vision sensor (CCD/CMOS) camera, the computer vision system is able to transform the forces generated by C. elegans, through detecting the deflection of the pillars with sub-pixel accuracy. The experimental results demonstrate that the current vision-based force sensing system is capable of performing robust force measurements at a full 30 Hz with a 1.52 μN resolution. The framework has the potential to significantly facilitate the study on the relationship between muscle arms and force patterns of C. elegans in motion, and thus gives a better understanding of muscle arms development and modelling.

Keywords: microdevices; force sensors; biomechanics; C. elegans; MEMS; microelectromechanical systems; lab on chip; computer vision; muscle arms; automation; PDMS devices; Caenorhabditis elegans; force patterns; worms; visual feedback; image processing; polydimethylsiloxane.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCAT.2010.034742

International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, 2010 Vol.39 No.1/2/3, pp.137 - 144

Published online: 18 Aug 2010 *

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