Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Jul 5;113(27):E3941-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1607183113. Epub 2016 Jun 17.

Caenorhabditis elegans responses to bacteria from its natural habitats.

Author information

Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114;
CNRS, INSERM, Institute of Biology Valrose, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Parc Valrose, 06108 Nice, France;
Institute of Biology of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, CNRS UMR8197, Ecole Normale Supérieure, INSERM U1024, 75005 Paris, France
Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114;


Most Caenorhabditis elegans studies have used laboratory Escherichia coli as diet and microbial environment. Here we characterize bacteria of C. elegans' natural habitats of rotting fruits and vegetation to provide greater context for its physiological responses. By the use of 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA)-based sequencing, we identified a large variety of bacteria in C. elegans habitats, with phyla Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria being most abundant. From laboratory assays using isolated natural bacteria, C. elegans is able to forage on most bacteria (robust growth on ∼80% of >550 isolates), although ∼20% also impaired growth and arrested and/or stressed animals. Bacterial community composition can predict wild C. elegans population states in both rotting apples and reconstructed microbiomes: alpha-Proteobacteria-rich communities promote proliferation, whereas Bacteroidetes or pathogens correlate with nonproliferating dauers. Combinatorial mixtures of detrimental and beneficial bacteria indicate that bacterial influence is not simply nutritional. Together, these studies provide a foundation for interrogating how bacteria naturally influence C. elegans physiology.


Caenorhabditis elegans; ecology; host–microbe interactions

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center