Adhesion Energy of C. elegans
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The surface adhesion between C. elegans and the agar plates on which they are commonly grown has yet to be accurately quantified. C. elegans is a scientifically important species of nematode whose simple structure allowed the first mapping of the complete nervous system in a multicellular organism. One of the current topics of research in the C. elegans community is the investigation of neuronal function in locomotion. Models of locomotion are used in these studies to aid in determination of the functions of specific neurons involved in locomotion. The adhesion force plays a critical role in developing these models. This paper presents the experimental determination of the adhesion energy of a representative sample of C. elegans. Adhesion energy was determined by a direct pull-off technique. In this approach, nematodes are anesthetized to prevent movement and secured to a small load cell before an agar plate is slowly brought into contact with the specimen and then removed. The maximum tensile force is then fit to a JKR-type adhesion model, which assumes that the nematode is a cylinder in order to determine the adhesion energy. Repeated adhesions are also investigated to determine the importance of drying on the measured adhesion force. From these experiments, the adhesion energy was found to be W = 4.94 ± 1.19 mJ/m2. Limited experiments on the rol-6 cuticle mutant found a lower adhesion energy W = 2.65 ± 1.16 mJ/m2 for these animals.
KeywordsC. elegans Adhesion Mechanical testing
R. Mailler acknowledges support by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under award number FA9550-15-1-0060 for this work.
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