C. elegans is an excellent model system for studying neuroscience using genetics because of its relatively simple nervous system, sequenced genome, and the availability of a large number of transgenic and mutant strains. Recently, microfluidic devices have been used for high-throughput genetic screens, replacing traditional methods of manually handling C. elegans. However, the orientation of nematodes within microfluidic devices is random and often not conducive to inspection, hindering visual analysis and overall throughput. In addition, while previous studies have utilized methods to bias head and tail orientation, none of the existing techniques allow for orientation along the dorso-ventral body axis. Here, we present the design of a simple and robust method for passively orienting worms into lateral body positions in microfluidic devices to facilitate inspection of morphological features with specific dorso-ventral alignments. Using this technique, we can position animals into lateral orientations with up to 84% efficiency, compared to 21% using existing methods. We isolated six mutants with neuronal development or neurodegenerative defects, showing that our technology can be used for on-chip analysis and high-throughput visual screens.
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