A microfluidic device for automated, high-speed microinjection of Caenorhabditis elegans

Pengfei Song, Xianke Dong, Xinyu Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans has been widely used as a model organism in biological studies because of its short and prolific life cycle, relatively simple body structure, significant genetic overlap with human, and facile/inexpensive cultivation. Microinjection, as an established and versatile tool for delivering liquid substances into cellular/organismal objects, plays an important role in C. elegans research. However, the conventional manual procedure of C. elegans microinjection is labor-intensive and time-consuming and thus hinders large-scale C. elegans studies involving microinjection of a large number of C. elegans on a daily basis. In this paper, we report a novel microfluidic device that enables, for the first time, fully automated, high-speed microinjection of C. elegans. The device is automatically regulated by on-chip pneumatic valves and allows rapid loading, immobilization, injection, and downstream sorting of single C. elegans. For demonstration, we performed microinjection experiments on 200 C. elegans worms and demonstrated an average injection speed of 6.6 worm/min (average worm handling time: 9.45 s/worm) and a success rate of 77.5% (post-sorting success rate: 100%), both much higher than the performance of manual operation (speed: 1 worm/4 min and success rate: 30%). We conducted typical viability tests on the injected C. elegans and confirmed that the automated injection system does not impose significant adverse effect on the physiological condition of the injected C. elegans. We believe that the developed microfluidic device holds great potential to become a useful tool for facilitating high-throughput, large-scale worm biology research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number011912
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Cite this