Long-term time-lapse microscopy of C. elegans post-embryonic development
We present a microscopy technique that enables long-term time-lapse microscopy at single-cell resolution in moving and feeding Caenorhabditis elegans larvae. Time-lapse microscopy of C. elegans post-embryonic development is challenging, as larvae are highly motile. Moreover, immobilization generally leads to rapid developmental arrest. Instead, we confine larval movement to microchambers that contain bacteria as food, and use fast image acquisition and image analysis to follow the dynamics of cells inside individual larvae, as they move within each microchamber. This allows us to perform fluorescence microscopy of 10–20 animals in parallel with 20 min time resolution. We demonstrate the power of our approach by analysing the dynamics of cell division, cell migration and gene expression over the full ∼48 h of development from larva to adult. Our approach now makes it possible to study the behaviour of individual cells inside the body of a feeding and growing animal.