Worm Breeder's Gazette 9(2): 110

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 Small Inexpensive Laser for Ablating Cells

L. Avery, M. Herman, and B. Horvitz

We have recently bought a nitrogen-pumped dye laser made by LSI (
Laser Science, Inc) for killing cells in worms.  This laser costs $4,
000 and is very small: 12.5 X 4.5 X 2 inches.  Like the PRA (
Photochemical Research Associates) nitrogen-pumped dye lasers recently 
bought by the MRC and Boulder worm labs, it is mechanically simpler 
than the flash lamp pumped dye lasers used in the past (Sulston and 
White, Dev.  Biol.  78: 577-597, 1980; Sternberg and Horvitz, Dev.  
Biol.  88: 147-166, 1981) and therefore easier to use.  Also, like the 
PRA laser, it has a short pulse time and high repetition rate, 
allowing very precise surgery.  However, it is much smaller than PRA 
lasers, and therefore easier to mount and align.  Most components of 
our system are commercially available; however, we had to build a 
triggering circuit ourselves.  The LSI laser has made possible 
extensive and delicate operations (for example, see the article by 
Avery and Horvitz in this issue) and, more importantly, has made laser 
ablation a generally accessible technique in our lab.  We have not yet 
had any problems with it in about two months of use.  However, we have 
not tried to use it to make holes in eggshells.  We hope the ease of 
use and low cost of this laser will make laser ablation a more widely 
available technique.