Now, scientists have demonstrated an automated system that uses artificial intelligence and cutting-edge image processing to rapidly examine large numbers of individual Caenorhabditis elegans, a species of nematode widely used in biological research. Beyond replacing existing manual examination steps using microfluidics and automated hardware, the system's ability to detect subtle differences from worm-to-worm without human intervention can identify genetic mutations that might not have been detected otherwise.
By allowing thousands of worms to be examined autonomously in a fraction of the time required for conventional manual screening, the technique could change the way that high throughput genetic screening is carried out using C. elegans.
Details of the research were scheduled to be reported August 19th in the advance online publication of the journal Nature Methods. The research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.