Single neuron dissection in C. elegans by femtosecond laser pulses

Presentation Date: 

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Photonics West 2006 (San Jose, CA)

Presentation Slides: 

Using tightly-focused, 2-5 nJ femtosecond laser pulses we disrupt cellular material in the nematode worm C. elegans. Due to the nonlinear absorption of laser light, the dissection has submicrometer resolution, yielding surgery within the bulk of the worm without incision. The low energy of the pulses minimizes collateral damage. This technique permits subcellular surgery on live animals and opens a wide range of neurobiological questions to study in vivo.

We severed individual dendrites of a thermosensory neuron without damaging nearby neurons. Quantification of the resulting behavioral deficits identifies the contribution of the dissected structures. We show that the thermosensory response of the dendrite regulates the occurrence of cryophilic movement.

Future work includes an examination of the molecular basis of neurodegeneration that has application to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.