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Ask an expert: What is the difference between the Worminator and the wMicroTracker?

Buying a product is no longer as easy as looking it up and purchasing it. Instead, we spend additional time “price-shopping” and comparing the features and advantages of different yet similar products before making a purchase decision. Because of this, our sales team often finds themselves needing to explain the differences between our wMicroTracker another phenotyping system on the market – the Worminator. For this reason, we asked Yoanne Clovis, one of our sales team members, to help explain the differences. Here is what she had to say:

Q: What is the difference between the Worminator and the wMicroTracker?

A: Both are capable of giving phenotyping information of a similar nature, the Worminator and the wMicroTraker are in fact very different and respond to different requirements (acquisition time, type of media, ease of use, maintenance and user experience).

Data acquired:

The Worminator is an image-based software that detects the pixel variations in the videos that you acquired at the microscope. This means that you will need to acquire and store videos of your worms’ activity in order to get your locomotor activity data. This is very useful if you really need to see visually observe your worms in addition to getting the movement measurements.

The wMicroTracker is a plate reader that works by detecting worm movement through infrared light scattering in liquid media. When a worm interrupts a low-intensity LED beam, it is counted as an activity unit. The activity is then instantly analyzed and exported in an excel sheet as an average per well and per time-bin. No videos are acquired and the files are only a couple of kb.

The set-up:

You may use the Worminator under a microscope to observe small to microscopic worms, or acquire videos without magnification. If you need to observe small worms such as C. elegans, power users of the Worminator recommend that you dedicate a microscope to the acquisition of the images to be analyzed with the Worminator. In any case, you will need a camera in order to acquire said videos.

The wMicroTracker connected to a computer is sufficient for data acquisition. It can fit in your incubator if you need to control the environment of your worms during measurements.

Acquisition time:

All of the Worminator users that we interviewed prefer to acquire short videos (30 second to a couple of minutes), and need to be present during the entire data acquisition process.

The wMicroTracker is very hands-off system that using the proper conditions, users are able to record activity continuously for up to multiple weeks if needed.

Data storage requirements:

One potential downside of the Worminator is that over time, this technique requires an ever-growing data storage capability, especially if you would like to be able to re-analyze your data in the future. However, for some experiments such as unpairing of adult schistosomes, you may want to be able to observe and pinpoint certain events while you are measuring locomotion.

Storage requirement for wMicroTracker data remains minimal even for long-term assays (Kb to Mb range).

About The Author

Yoanne Clovis, Ph.D.

Yoanne Clovis has been with NemaMetrix almost since its inception. She has worn many hats at the company over the years - from lab work to her current sales manager position, she truly understands not just the company, but the c. elegans research field as well.

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