Fully automated cellular-resolution vertebrate screening platform with parallel animal processing
The zebrafish larva is an optically-transparent vertebrate model with complex organs that is widely used to study genetics, developmental biology, and to model various human diseases. In this article, we present a set of novel technologies that significantly increase the throughput and capabilities of our previously described vertebrate automated screening technology (VAST). We developed a robust multi-thread system that can simultaneously process multiple animals. System throughput is limited only by the image acquisition speed rather than by the fluidic or mechanical processes. We developed image recognition algorithms that fully automate manipulation of animals, including orienting and positioning regions of interest within the microscope's field of view. We also identified the optimal capillary materials for high-resolution, distortion-free, low-background imaging of zebrafish larvae.