An Automated Microfluidic System for Morphological Measurement and Size-Based Sorting of C. Elegans

Xianke Dong, Pengfei Song, Xinyu Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports a vision-based automated microfluidic system for morphological measurement and size-based sorting of the nematode worm C. Elegans. Exceeding the capabilities of conventional worm sorting microfluidic devices purely relying on passive sorting mechanisms, our system is capable of accurate measurement of the worm length/width and active sorting of worms with the desired sizes from a mixture of worms with different body sizes. This function is realized based on the combination of real-time, vision-based worm detection and sizing algorithms and automated on-chip worm manipulation. A double-layer microfluidic device with computer-controlled pneumatic valves is developed for sequential loading, trapping, vision-based sizing, and sorting of single worms. To keep the system operation robust, vision-based algorithms on detecting multi-worm loading and worm sizing failure have also been developed. We conducted sorting experiments on 319 worms and achieved an average sorting speed of 10.4 worms per minute (5.8 s/worm) with an operation success rate of 90.3%. This system will facilitate the worm biology studies where body size measurement and size-based sorting of many worms are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8663455
Pages (from-to)373-380
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • C. Elegans
  • Microfluidics
  • automation.
  • image processing
  • morphological measurement
  • size-based sorting

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