Synchronization and Media Exchange in Large-Scale Caenorhabditis elegans Cultures

Jason Daniels Brown, Utah State University


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a model organism for understanding sensory molecules of multicellular organisms. Ovulating hermaphrodites produce putative pheromone(s) that cause male attraction. Because pheromones are produced in such small quantities, adult conditioned-media from large-scale synchronous culture is necessary to analyze these pheromones. Current protocols for culture synchronization have volume constraints that limit large-scale synchronous cultures and current methodology for adult conditioned-media production is impractical.

Modification of Tangential Flow Filtration (TFF) systems was investigated for use as a method to increase the volume limits of bleach egg harvest for C. elegans culture synchronization. Also, an adult retention device built within the culture vessel was investigated to optimize the environment for aseptic conditioned-media production from dense large-scale C. elegans cultures.

During this investigation, we have shown that synchronous C. elegans cultures for adult conditioned-media production can be grown at scales larger than reported before, with potential for further scale up. Our growth methodologies have also yielded denser cultures than previously achieved at large scales. Since rapid bleach harvesting appears to be the bottleneck for large-scale production of synchronous C. elegans cultures, our approach of using modified TFF systems with mesh to retain C. elegans eggs increased the amount of eggs that could be bleach harvested at one time. Using this method we have been able to achieve up to 5x103 synchronous C. elegans per mL at a 50L scale. Since scale-up of TFF is straightforward, our results suggest that the technique reported here can easily be applied to larger scale systems for production of adult conditioned-media for C. elegans. Further, the adult retention device within the culture vessel can ensure that the whole process remains aseptic.