Worms, bacteria, and micronutrients: an elegant model of our diet

UMMS Affiliation

Program in Systems Biology; Program in Molecular Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Bacteria | Biochemical Phenomena, Metabolism, and Nutrition | Genetics | Molecular Biology | Molecular, Genetic, and Biochemical Nutrition | Molecular Genetics | Systems Biology


Micronutrients are required in small proportions in a diet to carry out key metabolic roles for biomass and energy production. Humans receive micronutrients either directly from their diet or from gut microbiota that metabolize other nutrients. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and its bacterial diet provide a relatively simple and genetically tractable model to study both direct and microbe-mediated effects of micronutrients. Recently, this model has been used to gain insight into the relationship between micronutrients, physiology, and metabolism. In particular, two B-type vitamins, vitamin B12 and folate, have been studied in detail. Here we review how C. elegans and its bacterial diet provide a powerful interspecies systems biology model that facilitates the precise delineation of micronutrient effects and the mechanisms involved.


Caenorhabditis elegans, micronutrients, vitamin B, folate, gut microbiota, metabolism

DOI of Published Version



Trends Genet. 2014 Nov;30(11):496-503. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2014.07.010. Epub 2014 Aug 26. Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Trends in genetics : TIG

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID