Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 1149 Views Aug 20, 2022

C. elegans shows robust and reproducible behavioral responses to oxygen. Specifically, worms prefer O2 levels of 5–10% and avoid too high or too low O2. Their O2 preference is not fixed but shows plasticity depending on experience, context, or genetic background. We recently showed that this experience-dependent plasticity declines with age, providing a useful behavioral readout for studying the mechanisms of age-related decline of neural plasticity. Here, we describe a technique to visualize behavioral O2 preference and its plasticity in C. elegans, by creating spatial gradients of [O2] in a microfluidic polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) chamber and recording the resulting spatial distribution of the animals.

0 Q&A 4560 Views Oct 20, 2018
Experimental studies of the evolution of reproductive isolation in real time are a powerful way to reveal the way that fundamental processes, such as mate choice, initiate divergence. Mate choice, while frequently described in females, can occur in either sex, and can be affected by the genetics or environment of an individual. Here we describe simple protocols for assessing mating outcomes in fruit flies, which in this context can be used to assess reproductive isolation derived from rearing on different diets over multiple generations.
0 Q&A 6126 Views Oct 5, 2018
Exercise induces beneficial systemic adaptations that reduce the incidence of age-related diseases. However, the molecular pathways that elicit these adaptations are not well understood. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie the exercise response can lead to widely beneficial therapies. Large populations, relatively short lifespan, and easily modifiable genetics make Drosophila a well-suited model system for complex, longitudinal studies. We have developed an enforced climbing apparatus for Drosophila, known as the Power Tower, for the study of systemic exercise adaptations. The Power Tower takes advantage of the fly’s natural instinct for negative geotaxis, an innate behavior to run upwards after being tapped to the bottom of their vial. Flies will continuously run either to the point of exhaustion or until the machine is turned off, whichever comes first. After 3 weeks of exercise, male Drosophila adapt to training with a number of conserved, easily quantifiable physiological improvements similar to those seen in mammalian models and humans. Here, we describe a useful endurance training protocol and a suite of post-training assessments that effectively quantify training effects.
0 Q&A 10541 Views Mar 5, 2018
Motor control requires the central nervous system to integrate different sensory inputs and convey this information to the relevant central pattern generator for execution of motor function through motor neurons and muscles. Proper motor control is essential for any mobile organism to survive and interact with the external environment. For flying insects, motor control is required for flying, walking, feeding and mating apart from other more advanced behaviours such as grooming and aggression. Any perturbation to the sensory input or malfunctioning of neural connections to the motor output can result in motor defects. Here, we describe simple protocols for assessing flight and climbing ability of fruit flies, which can be used as two general tests to assess their motor function.
0 Q&A 6396 Views Dec 5, 2017
The proboscis extension reflex (PER) is a common classical conditioned reflex which is widely used in the neurology and ethology. In honeybees, PER experiments can train bees to associate an odor with a reward or punishment. Here we present a variation of the PER experiment in Apis mellifera that trains honeybees using only one antenna. This variation on the PER paradigm could assist research efforts in fields which study lateralization within the nervous system.
0 Q&A 8628 Views Jul 20, 2017
Aldicarb treatment causes an accumulation of acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft of the neuromuscular junction, resulting in sustained muscle activation and eventually paralysis. Aldicarb-induced paralysis assay is an easy and fast method to determine whether synaptic transmission of a C. elegans mutant of interest is altered. This assay is based on the correlation of the rate of neurotransmitter release with the rate of paralysis. In this protocol, we describe a method for simultaneously assessing the aldicarb sensitivity of animals with different genotypes.
0 Q&A 8613 Views Jul 5, 2017
To investigate cellular, molecular and behavioral mechanisms of noxious cold detection, we developed cold plate behavioral assays and quantitative means for evaluating the predominant noxious cold-evoked contraction behavior. To characterize neural activity in response to noxious cold, we implemented a GCaMP6-based calcium imaging assay enabling in vivo studies of intracellular calcium dynamics in intact Drosophila larvae. We identified Drosophila class III multidendritic (md) sensory neurons as multimodal sensors of innocuous mechanical and noxious cold stimuli and to dissect the mechanistic bases of multimodal sensory processing we developed two independent functional assays. First, we developed an optogenetic dose response assay to assess whether levels of neural activation contributes to the multimodal aspects of cold sensitive sensory neurons. Second, we utilized CaMPARI, a photo-switchable calcium integrator that stably converts fluorescence from green to red in presence of high intracellular calcium and photo-converting light, to assess in vivo functional differences in neural activation levels between innocuous mechanical and noxious cold stimuli. These novel assays enable investigations of behavioral and functional roles of peripheral sensory neurons and multimodal sensory processing in Drosophila larvae.
0 Q&A 11461 Views Jul 5, 2017
Cells and organisms face constant exposure to reactive oxygen species (ROS), either from the environment or as a by-product from internal metabolic processes. To prevent cellular damage from ROS, cells have evolved detoxification mechanisms. The activation of these detoxification mechanisms and their downstream responses represent an overlapping defense response that can be tailored to different sources of ROS to adequately adapt and protect cells. In this protocol, we describe how to measure the sensitivity to oxidative stress from two different sources, arsenite and tBHP, using the nematode C. elegans.
0 Q&A 7931 Views May 5, 2017
The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a useful model organism for dissecting molecular mechanisms of neurological diseases. While hermaphrodite C. elegans contains only 302 neurons, the conserved homologous neurotransmitters, simpler neuronal circuitry, and fully mapped connectome make it an appealing model system for neurological research. Here we developed an assay to induce an electroconvulsive seizure in C. elegans which can be used as a behavioral method of analyzing potential anti-epileptic therapeutics and novel genes involved in seizure susceptibility. In this assay, worms are suspended in an aqueous solution as current is passed through the liquid. At the onset of the shock, worms will briefly paralyze and twitch, and shortly after regain normal sinusoidal locomotion. The time to locomotor recovery is used as a metric of recovery from a seizure which can be reduced or extended by incorporating drugs that alter neuronal and muscular excitability.
0 Q&A 7570 Views Oct 20, 2016
Optogenetics is a powerful tool for manipulating neuronal activity with high temporal and spatial precision. In the nematode C. elegans optogentics is especially useful and easy to apply. This is because C. elegans is translucent, so its neurons are highly accessible to optic stimulation. In addition, many of its neurons can be exclusively targeted using cell-specific promoters. We have recently taken advantage of optogenetics to deliver artificial patterns of prolonged activation to a class of mechanosensory neurons, called touch receptor neurons (TRNs) in worms that lack touch sensation due to a genetic mutation. Our aim was to examine whether we can counteract the effects of sensory loss by artificially activating the sensory neurons. Here we describe in detail the various components of the protocol that we used. This consists of exposing worms expressing the light-sensitive ion channel Channelrohdopsin 2 (ChR2) in TRNs to long-term random flashes of light.

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