Characterizations of kinetic power and propulsion of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans based on a micro-particle image velocimetry system

Wan Jung Kuo, Yue Syun Sie, Han Sheng Chuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Quantifying the motility of micro-organisms is beneficial in understanding their biomechanical properties. This paper presents a simple image-based algorithm to derive the kinetic power and propulsive force of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. To avoid unnecessary disturbance, each worm was confined in an aqueous droplet of 0.5 μl. The droplet was sandwiched between two glass slides and sealed with mineral oil to prevent evaporation. For motion visualization, 3-μm fluorescent particles were dispersed in the droplet. Since the droplet formed an isolated environment, the fluid drag and energy loss due to wall frictions were associated with the worm's kinetic power and propulsion. A microparticle image velocimetry system was used to acquire consecutive particle images for fluid analysis. The shorttime interval (Δt<20 ms) between images enabled quasi real-time measurements. A numerical simulation of the flow in a straight channel showed that the relative error of this algorithm was significantly mitigated as the image was divided into small interrogation windows. The time-averaged power and propulsive force of a N2 adult worm over three swimming cycles were estimated to be 5.2 ± 3.1 pW and 1.0 ± 0.8 nN, respectively. In addition, a mutant, KG532 [kin-2(ce179) X], and a wild-type (N2) worm in a viscous medium were investigated. Both cases showed an increase in the kinetic power as compared with the N2 worm in the nematode growth medium due to the hyperactive nature of the kin-2 mutant and the high viscosity medium used. Overall, the technique deals with less sophisticated calculations and is automation possible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number024116
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Mar 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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