Cryopreservation produces limited long-term effects on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

Stastna, J. J.; Yiapanas, A. D.; Mandawala, A. A.; Fowler, K. E. and Harvey, S. C. (2020). Cryopreservation produces limited long-term effects on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Cryobiology, 92 pp. 86–91.



Cryopreservation, the freezing and later warming of biological samples with minimal loss of viability, is important in many scientific disciplines. For some applications, particularly those where there is limited available material, it is critical to ensure the maximal survival rates of cryopreserved materials. Most of the challenges encountered with such techniques take place after the warming process where cryodamage affects cell viability and future development. Here we have used the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate the effects of cryodamage caused by slow-freezing. We find that freezing results in the death of some worms, with an approximately 40% reduction in the number of worms that develop in the frozen populations, but that the effects on worms that survive are limited. For example, there are no differences in the lifetime fecundity or in lifespan between frozen and control worms, although early fecundity and body size was reduced in frozen worms. Similarly, analyses of body wall muscle structure and of pharyngeal function indicates that muscle development and function are not significantly affected by freezing. We do however determine that freezing increases the rates of matricidal hatching, where progeny hatch within the mother. Overall, these results indicate that, for worms that survive, cryopreservation produces limited long-term effects, but do indicate that some phenotypes could be used in further analyses of the cellular damage induced by cryopreservation.

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