Worm Breeder's Gazette 8(1): 53
These abstracts should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.
A project is underway to evaluate the potential of using a video camera interfaced to a microcomputer for studying the behavior of small animals such as the nematode Caenorhabditis m has been assembled consisting of an inexpensive CCTV camera, a commercial computer using a 6809 microprocessor, and a specially built interface for the SS-50 bus. The interface stores one bit of intensity information for each point in a 256 x 240 array. The full frame can be stored in 7680 bytes of memory during a single scan of the camera. Darkfield illumination of the animals is used to provide high contrast. Software has been written to track individual nematodes and record changes in their direction of movement. Twenty-five worms can be tracked simultaneously with a one second interval between sequential determinations of the position of each animal. Chemical stimuli are carried in a flow of gas over the nematodes. Initial experiments have used CO2 or O2 as stimuli. Changes in both the rate of movement and the frequency of change of direction are readily observed. Indeed the response to oxygen, a relatively weak stimulus by other methods, can be detected in one two minute stimulus cycle. This observation suggests that this technique may be a major improvement in assaying for chemical stimuli, at least for volatile chemicals.