A high-throughput method to deliver targeted optogenetic stimulation to moving C. elegans populations

Mochi Liu, Sandeep Kumar, Anuj K. Sharma, Andrew M. Leifer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


AU We:present Pleaseconfirmthatallheadinglevelsarerepresentedcorrectly a high-throughput optogenetic illumination system : capable of simultaneous closed-loop light delivery to specified targets in populations of moving Caenorhabditis elegans. The instrument addresses 3 technical challenges: It delivers targeted illumination to specified regions of the animal’s body such as its head or tail; it automatically delivers stimuli triggered upon the animal’s behavior; and it achieves high throughput by targeting many animals simultaneously. The instrument was used to optogenetically probe the animal’s behavioral response to competing mechanosensory stimuli in the the anterior and posterior gentle touch receptor neurons. Responses to more than 43,418 stimulus events from a range of anterior–posterior intensity combinations were measured. The animal’s probability of sprinting forward in response to a mechanosensory stimulus depended on both the anterior and posterior stimulation intensity, while the probability of reversing depended primarily on the anterior stimulation intensity. We also probed the animal’s response to mechanosensory stimulation during the onset of turning, a relatively rare behavioral event, by delivering stimuli automatically when the animal began to turn. Using this closed-loop approach, over 9,700 stimulus events were delivered during turning onset at a rate of 9.2 events per worm hour, a greater than 25-fold increase in throughput compared to previous investigations. These measurements validate with greater statistical power previous findings that turning acts to gate mechanosensory evoked reversals. Compared to previous approaches, the current system offers targeted optogenetic stimulation to specific body regions or behaviors with many fold increases in throughput to better constrain quantitative models of sensorimotor processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3001524
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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