C.elegans biomechanical modelling

The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C.elegans) has emerged as a powerful model-organism for the study of many different physiological processes. For example the C.elegans has been used extensively to investigate the neuronal and behavioural response and ageing. Thus, C. elegans tissue physiology has an important role in understanding many of the worm’s behaviour in locomotion, sensory response to mechanical & chemical stimuli, etc. In our research work, we interrogate different chemicals on C.elegans that are routinely used to investigate biological processes involved in neural responses of this model-organism. Chemicals such as aldicarb are widely used in assays to study neuromuscular junctions/synaptic transmission at the C. elegans neuromuscular junction. To investigate these, and to evaluate C.elegans biomechanical properties, we are developing a micromanipulation set-up to allow uniaxial indentation of C. elegans using microforce sensing probes (uFDS, AFM), as well as state-of-the-art biomechanical finite element models of the worm physiology (cuticle, hypodermis, body wall muscles, and the guts) – all are important contributors to the outer stiffness of the nematode. This project is part of an ongoing collaboration with Dr Muna Elmi, Dr Clara Essmann, Professor Mandayam Srinivasan and his group (UCL), Dr Christofors Rekatsinas and Dr Nikolaos Chrysohoides (University of Patras).

Relevant work:

Elmi et al. 2017. Scientific Reports, doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-12190-0

Cartoon shows the morphology of the C.elegans: cuticle, hypodermis, body wall muscles, and the guts.
Graphic depicts the experimental setup used to biomechanically characterize C.elegans – this experimental approach combines optical methods and a microforce sensing probe to measure C.elegans stiffness.
Close-up to the computer design of the C.elegans model geometry, and FE simulation results (mean solid stress) at the point of the (AFM) micro-indentation is depicted.

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