In this work, we present a pilot development of miniaturized Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) devices for studying toxin avoidance behaviors of small aquatic crustaceans. As an investigative tool, LOCs represent a new direction that may miniaturize and revolutionize behavioral ecotoxicology. Specifically our innovative microfluidic prototype: (i) enables convening “caging” of specimens for real-time videomicroscopy; (ii) eliminates the evaporative water loss thus providing an opportunity for long-term behavioral studies; (iii) exploits laminar fluid flow under low Reynolds numbers to generate discrete domains and gradients enabling for the first time toxin avoidance studies on small aquatic crustaceans; (iv) integrates off-the-chip mechatronic interfaces and video analysis algorithms for single animal movement analysis. We provide evidence that by merging innovative bioelectronic and biomicrofluidic technologies we can deploy inexpensive and reliable systems for culture, electronic tracking and complex computational analysis of behavior of bioindicator organisms.
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