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This paper reports development of an integrated fiber-optic microfluidic device for measuring muscular force of small nematode worms with high sensitivity, high data reliability, and simple device structure. A moving nematode worm squeezed through multiple detection points (DPs) created between a thinned single mode fiber (SMF) cantilever and a sine-wave channel with open troughs. The SMF cantilever was deflected by the normal force imposed by the worm, reducing optical coupling from the SMF to a receiving multimode fiber (MMF). Thus, multiple force data could be obtained for the worm–SMF contacts to verify with each other, improving data reliability. A noise equivalent displacement of the SMF cantilever was 0.28 μm and a noise equivalent force of the device was 143 nN. We demonstrated the workability of the device to detect muscular normal forces of the parasitic nematodes Oesophagotomum dentatum L3 larvae on the SMF cantilever. Also, we used this technique to measure force responses of levamisole-sensitive (SENS) and resistant (LERV) O. dentatum isolates in response to different doses of the anthelmintic drug, levamisole. The results showed that both of the isolates generated a larger muscular normal force when exposed to a higher concentration of levamisole. We also noticed muscular force phenotype differences between the SENS and LERV worms: the SENS muscles were more sensitive to levamisole than the LERV muscles. The ability to quantify the muscular forces of small nematode worms will provide a new approach for screening mutants at single animal resolution. Also, the ability to resolve small differences in muscular forces in different environmental conditions will facilitate phenotyping different isolates of nematodes. Thus, the present technology can potentially benefit and advance the current whole animal assays.
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