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Dye-enhanced visualization of rat whiskers for behavioral studies

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Cite this article as: eLife 2017;6:e25290 doi: 10.7554/eLife.25290

Abstract

Visualization and tracking of the facial whiskers is required in an increasing number of rodent studies. Though many approaches have been employed, only high-speed videography has proven adequate for measuring whisker motion and deformation during interaction with an object. However, whisker visualization and tracking is challenging for multiple reasons, primary among them the low contrast of the whisker against its background. Here we demonstrate a fluorescent dye method suitable for visualization of one or more rat whiskers. The process makes the dyed whisker(s) easily visible against a dark background. The coloring does not influence the behavioral performance of rats trained on a vibrissal vibrotactile discrimination task, nor does it affect the whiskers’ mechanical properties.

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Author details

  1. Jacopo Rigosa

    International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy
    For correspondence
    jrigosa@sissa.it
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-3184-994X
  2. Alessandro Lucantonio

    International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Giovanni Noselli

    International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Arash Fassihi

    International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Erik Zorzin

    International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Fabrizio Manzino

    International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Francesca Pulecchi

    International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Mathew E Diamond

    International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy
    For correspondence
    diamond@sissa.it
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-2286-4566

Funding

Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca (GA 280778)

  • Mathew E Diamond

International School for Advanced Studies (NOFYSAS 2012)

  • Giovanni Noselli

Human Frontier Science Program (RG0015/2013)

  • Mathew E Diamond

European Commission (project 294498)

  • Mathew E Diamond

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Animal experimentation: The rats were under the care of a consulting veterinarian. Protocols followed the guidelines ofEU Directive 2010/63/EU, established as Italian decree 26/2014, and were approved by theSISSA Ethics Committee and the Italian Ministry of Health license numbers 569/2015-PR and570/2015-PR.

Reviewing Editor

  1. David Kleinfeld, University of California, San Diego, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: January 20, 2017
  2. Accepted: June 13, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: June 14, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: July 14, 2017 (version 2)
  5. Version of Record updated: November 3, 2017 (version 3)
  6. Version of Record updated: March 13, 2018 (version 4)

Copyright

© 2017, Rigosa et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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