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Atomic force imaging used to study nematodes

KFU bionanotechnology lab (head - Dr. Rawil Fakhrullin) has obtained 3-D images of nematodes' cuticles

Kazan Federal University

Soil nematodes Caenorhabditis elegans are very small roundworms that are studied with microscopy. They are widely used as model organisms in genetics, neurophysiology, and developmental and quantitative biology research. Their cuticle is a fitting testing material for toxicology and medication screening.

In a new study, researchers report for the first time the effective imaging of the nanoscale structure of C. elegans nematodes' cuticle using atomic force microscopy operating in PeakForce Tapping mode.

Research Associate Farida Akhatova explained, «Before the experiments we obtained traditional SEM images of nematodes. Unfortunately, the preparatory procedures sometimes do not allow to preserve a worm's body and alters the properties of their cuticle. AFM demonstrates typical morphological properties of epicuticle in high definition. However, the enhanced scanning also shows irregularities that appear on specimens' surfaces because of dehydration. Here we show AFM imaging in water for the first time. Although almost everything had been known about its surface anatomy, there are several peculiarities that had not yet been found out before the research».

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