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Optogenetic manipulation of neural activity in freely moving Caenorhabditis elegans
Neurobiology Publications and Presentations
  • Andrew M. Leifer, Harvard University
  • Christopher Fang-Yen, Harvard University
  • Marc Gershow, Harvard University
  • Mark J. Alkema, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Aravinthan D. T. Samuel, Harvard University
UMMS Affiliation
Department of Neurobiology; Alkema Lab
Publication Date
Document Type
Animals; Caenorhabditis elegans; *Movement; Muscle Cells; Neurons; *Optical Processes; Photobiology

We present an optogenetic illumination system capable of real-time light delivery with high spatial resolution to specified targets in freely moving Caenorhabditis elegans. A tracking microscope records the motion of an unrestrained worm expressing channelrhodopsin-2 or halorhodopsin in specific cell types. Image processing software analyzes the worm's position in each video frame, rapidly estimates the locations of targeted cells and instructs a digital micromirror device to illuminate targeted cells with laser light of the appropriate wavelengths to stimulate or inhibit activity. Because each cell in an unrestrained worm is a rapidly moving target, our system operates at high speed ( approximately 50 frames per second) to provide high spatial resolution ( approximately 30 mum). To test the accuracy, flexibility and utility of our system, we performed optogenetic analyses of the worm motor circuit, egg-laying circuit and mechanosensory circuits that have not been possible with previous methods.

DOI of Published Version
Nat Methods. 2011 Feb;8(2):147-52. Epub 2011 Jan 16. Link to article on publisher's site
Related Resources
Link to Article in PubMed
PubMed ID
Citation Information
Andrew M. Leifer, Christopher Fang-Yen, Marc Gershow, Mark J. Alkema, et al.. "Optogenetic manipulation of neural activity in freely moving Caenorhabditis elegans" Vol. 8 Iss. 2 (2011) ISSN: 1548-7091 (Linking)
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