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Annu Rev Genet. 2013;47:233-46. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-111212-133352.

Bacteria and the aging and longevity of Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139; email:


The molecular genetic analysis of longevity of Caenorhabditis elegans has yielded fundamental insights into evolutionarily conserved pathways and processes governing the physiology of aging. Recent studies suggest that interactions between C. elegans and its microbial environment may influence the aging and longevity of this simple host organism. Experimental evidence supports a role for bacteria in affecting longevity through distinct mechanisms--as a nutrient source, as a potential pathogen that induces double-edged innate immune and stress responses, and as a coevolved sensory stimulus that modulates neuronal signaling pathways regulating longevity. Motivating this review is the anticipation that the molecular genetic dissection of the integrated host immune, stress, and neuroendocrine responses to microbes in C. elegans will uncover basic insights into the cellular and organismal physiology that governs aging and longevity.

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