The OpenWorm team were present at the main C. elegans scientific conference in Glasgow in June 2023.
We presented an update on the recent activities in the project (click on the poster below) and connected with a number of groups who are acquiring leading edge experimental data which can be used to help build and constrain our worm models.
As part of a recent Google Summer of Code project by Rahul Sonkar, an interactive tutorial for the Hodgkin Huxley model of neuronal activity was developed. This Jupyter notebook based tutorial can be used to investigate how ion channel dynamical properties underlie the generation of the action potential in neurons.
We have been investigating multiple options for incorporating 2D worm body models into our simulation pipeline to complement the full 3D Sibernetic-based worm body model.
DevoWorm has sponsored two projects through the Google Summer of Code program for 2023: maintenance of the DevoLearn software package, and development of work on GNN (Graph neural Networks) and TDA (Topological Data Analysis) applications to biological development. These projects involve the work of GSoC scholars Sushmanth Reddy and Himanshu Chougule, respectively.
Members of the DevoWorm group have two recent publications: Embodied Cognitive Morphogenesis as a Route to Intelligent Systems, published at Royal Society Interface Focus, and The Psychophysical World of the Motile Diatom Bacillaria Paradoxa, published in Mathematical Biology of Diatoms.
In our weekly meetings, we have discussed topics such as early life and the origins of embryos, the biophysical and topological underpinnings of phenotypes, current organoid, embryoid, and assembloid research, and the intersection of microscopy and artificial life. There are collective discussions, as well as presentations on various topics by Bradly Alicea. Our archive of weekly meetings is available on the DevoWorm YouTube channel.
One of the first uses of these funds will be to support OpenWorm Studentships (see below).
OpenWorm Studentships are a new way to incentivize contribution to the OpenWorm project, offering small stipends and recognition to junior researchers who want to spend time bringing their research into OpenWorm and making it more accessible for the wider community. See here for more information.
The first person to complete an OpenWorm Studentship project has been Tyson Wheelwright. He has made significant updates to the Blender 2 NeuroML subproject.
Figure showing a single cell (ADAL) highlighted in orange in the original 3D Blender file (from the Virtual Worm Project) on the left, and corresponding images of the cell on its own in Blender (middle 2 panels) and in NeuroML 2 format (right 2 panels). The NeuroML version is being used in our biophysical model of the worm nervous system. See here for more examples.
More Studentships will be offered to the community in late 2022.
The recent paper NeuroPAL: A Multicolor Atlas for Whole-Brain Neuronal Identification in C. elegans described a groundbreaking new technique to create a genetic strain of the worm where each neuron is labelled with a fluorescent marker of a specific color, allowing easy identification of neurons across experiments and animals.
We have converted one of these datasets containing positions of cell bodies and the expressed NeuroPAL colors to NeuroML, to allow it to be used in OpenWorm models and associated applications. Full details can be found here.
Electrical recordings from individual neurons in C. elegans are crucial experimental data required for creating biologically realistic computational models of the worm.
Electrophysiological recordings of the activity of the ASH neuron made by the Wormsense Lab of Miriam Goodman were converted to open, standardized Neurodata Without Borders format as part of a Google Summer of Code project in 2021 by Steph Prince. Further details, as well as all of the converted datasets, can be found here.
Over the past year, DevoWorm has been involved in a number of initiatives. DevoWorm hosted four Google Summer of Code students in 2022: Karan Lohaan and Harikrishna Pillai worked on the Digital Microspheres project (a spherical platform for embryo data), while Jiahang Li and Wataru Kawakami worked on developing a Graph Neural Network pipeline for the DevoLearn platform.
DevoWorm also had a presence at NetSci 2022 (virtual conference hosted in Shanghai). Bradly Alicea presented on the group's Embodied Hypernetworks work in the main conference, as well as serving to represent the group at the Network Neuroscience satellite session as a presenter and participant.
Our weekly meetings are a continuing success. We cover a number of technical topics and a wide variety of topical reviews spanning biophysics, developmental biology, computational analysis, and more. Join us on Mondays at 2pm UTC (1pm UTC in winter) to get involved.
Example movie generated when the Docker container containing the OpenWorm simulation stack runs for 5 seconds of simulated time.
We have made a new release of the Docker container that pulls together the major components of our simulation stack and allows it to be run on your machine. It includes Sibernetic, c302 and owmeta. See details here.
A poster presenting the latest status of the OpenWorm project was presented at the main global conference in the C. elegans field in June 2021. Click on the image above to download the poster.