skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on March 14, 2024

Title: Argentine ant extract induces an osm-9 dependent chemotaxis response in C. elegans
Many ant species are equipped with chemical defenses, although how these compounds impact nervous system function is unclear. Here, we examined the utility of Caenorhabditis elegans chemotaxis assays for investigating how ant chemical defense compounds are detected by heterospecific nervous systems. We found that C. elegans respond to extracts from the invasive Argentine Ant (Linepithema humile) and the osm-9 ion channel is required for this response. Divergent strains varied in their response to L. humile extracts, suggesting genetic variation underlying chemotactic responses. These experiments were conducted by an undergraduate laboratory course, highlighting how C. elegans chemotaxis assays in a classroom setting can provide genuine research experiences and reveal new insights into interspecies interactions.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1845651
NSF-PAR ID:
10454981
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; « less
Date Published:
Journal Name:
microPublication biology
Volume:
2023
ISSN:
2578-9430
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Currently threatening the world of medicine is a growing number of antibiotic-resistant diseases. More specifically, bacteria and nematodes have gained resistance to many of the world’s leading antibiotics and nematicides, respectively, making infections more difficult to treat. Subsequently, these parasitic organisms are able to continue damaging crops and other living organisms like humans without strong interference. To help people and the environment, the development of new and novel antibiotics is vital. Previous research suggests that phytochemicals are a potential solution that will not only help inhibit bacterial growth but also reduce nematode survival. We hypothesized that Myrica cerifera, a plant often used by the Lumbee tribe to treat illness, possesses antibacterial and nematicidal properties. To answer our hypothesis, we began by collecting plant specimens to extract material for biological assays and to subsequently isolate and elucidate the structures of active components. The extract was evaluated for antibacterial properties with an agar diffusion assay and then nematicidal properties using Caenorhabditis elegans. M. cerifera extract was added onto an agar lawn at various doses, and the nematodes’ lifespans were scored. The findings of this study show that extracts of this plant, more commonly referred to as ‘wax myrtle’, do significantly decrease the lifespan of C. elegans and increase the zone of inhibition for Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus aureus. In addition, two compounds were isolated and characterized through chemical extraction, chromatographic separation, and spectroscopic analysis. These compounds could potentially be used to treat bacterial and nematode infections.KEYWORDS: Antibacterial; Antimicrobial; Caenorhabditis elegans; Plant extract; Myrica cerifera; Nematicidal; NMR; Phytochemical 
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Current methods for non-invasive prostate cancer (PrCa) detection have a high false-positive rate and often result in unnecessary biopsies. Previous work has suggested that urinary volatile organic compound (VOC) biomarkers may be able to distinguish PrCa cases from benign disease. The behavior of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been proposed as a tool to take advantage of these potential VOC profiles. To test the ability of C. elegans Bristol N2 to distinguish PrCa cases from controls, we performed chemotaxis assays using human urine samples collected from men screened for PrCa. Behavioral response of nematodes towards diluted urine from PrCa cases was compared to response to samples from cancer-free controls. Overall, we observed a significant attraction of young adult-stage C. elegans nematodes to 1:100 diluted urine from confirmed PrCa cases and repulsion of C. elegans to urine from controls. When C. elegans chemotaxis index was considered alongside prostate-specific antigen levels for distinguishing cancer from cancer-free controls, the accuracy of patient classification was 81%. We also observed behavioral attraction of C. elegans to two previously reported VOCs to be increased in PrCa patient urine. We conclude nematode behavior distinguishes PrCa case urine from controls in a dilution-dependent manner. 
    more » « less
  3. ABSTRACT Although alcohols are toxic to many microorganisms, they are good carbon and energy sources for some bacteria, including many pseudomonads. However, most studies that have examined chemosensory responses to alcohols have reported that alcohols are sensed as repellents, which is consistent with their toxic properties. In this study, we examined the chemotaxis of Pseudomonas putida strain F1 to n -alcohols with chain lengths of 1 to 12 carbons. P. putida F1 was attracted to all n -alcohols that served as growth substrates (C 2 to C 12 ) for the strain, and the responses were induced when cells were grown in the presence of alcohols. By assaying mutant strains lacking single or multiple methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins, the receptor mediating the response to C 2 to C 12 alcohols was identified as McfP, the ortholog of the P. putida strain KT2440 receptor for C 2 and C 3 carboxylic acids. Besides being a requirement for the response to n -alcohols, McfP was required for the response of P. putida F1 to pyruvate, l -lactate, acetate, and propionate, which are detected by the KT2440 receptor, and the medium- and long-chain carboxylic acids hexanoic acid and dodecanoic acid. β-Galactosidase assays of P. putida F1 carrying an mcfP-lacZ transcriptional fusion showed that the mcfP gene is not induced in response to alcohols. Together, our results are consistent with the idea that the carboxylic acids generated from the oxidation of alcohols are the actual attractants sensed by McfP in P. putida F1, rather than the alcohols themselves. IMPORTANCE Alcohols, released as fermentation products and produced as intermediates in the catabolism of many organic compounds, including hydrocarbons and fatty acids, are common components of the microbial food web in soil and sediments. Although they serve as good carbon and energy sources for many soil bacteria, alcohols have primarily been reported to be repellents rather than attractants for motile bacteria. Little is known about how alcohols are sensed by microbes in the environment. We report here that catabolizable n -alcohols with linear chains of up to 12 carbons serve as attractants for the soil bacterium Pseudomonas putida , and rather than being detected directly, alcohols appear to be catabolized to acetate, which is then sensed by a specific cell-surface chemoreceptor protein. 
    more » « less
  4. Microorganism sensing of and responding to ambient chemical gradients regulates a myriad of microbial processes that are fundamental to ecosystem function and human health and disease. The development of efficient, high-throughput screening tools for microbial chemotaxis is essential to disentangling the roles of diverse chemical compounds and concentrations that control cell nutrient uptake, chemorepulsion from toxins, and microbial pathogenesis. Here, we present a novel microfluidic multiplexed chemotaxis device (MCD) which uses serial dilution to simultaneously perform six parallel bacterial chemotaxis assays that span five orders of magnitude in chemostimulant concentration on a single chip. We first validated the dilution and gradient generation performance of the MCD, and then compared the measured chemotactic response of an established bacterial chemotaxis system (Vibrio alginolyticus) to a standard microfluidic assay. Next, the MCD’s versatility was assessed by quantifying the chemotactic responses of different bacteria (Psuedoalteromonas haloplanktis, Escherichia coli) to different chemoattractants and chemorepellents. The MCD vastly accelerates the chemotactic screening process, which is critical to deciphering the complex sea of chemical stimuli underlying microbial responses.

     
    more » « less
  5. ABSTRACT Plant roots shape the rhizosphere community by secreting compounds that recruit diverse bacteria. Colonization of various plant roots by the motile alphaproteobacterium Azospirillum brasilens e causes increased plant growth, root volume, and crop yield. Bacterial chemotaxis in this and other motile soil bacteria is critical for competitive colonization of the root surfaces. The role of chemotaxis in root surface colonization has previously been established by endpoint analyses of bacterial colonization levels detected a few hours to days after inoculation. More recently, microfluidic devices have been used to study plant-microbe interactions, but these devices are size limited. Here, we use a novel slide-in chamber that allows real-time monitoring of plant-microbe interactions using agriculturally relevant seedlings to characterize how bacterial chemotaxis mediates plant root surface colonization during the association of A. brasilens e with Triticum aestivum (wheat) and Medicago sativa (alfalfa) seedlings. We track A. brasilense accumulation in the rhizosphere and on the root surfaces of wheat and alfalfa. A. brasilense motile cells display distinct chemotaxis behaviors in different regions of the roots, including attractant and repellent responses that ultimately drive surface colonization patterns. We also combine these observations with real-time analyses of behaviors of wild-type and mutant strains to link chemotaxis responses to distinct chemicals identified in root exudates to specific chemoreceptors that together explain the chemotactic response of motile cells in different regions of the roots. Furthermore, the bacterial second messenger c-di-GMP modulates these chemotaxis responses. Together, these findings illustrate dynamic bacterial chemotaxis responses to rhizosphere gradients that guide root surface colonization. IMPORTANCE Plant root exudates play critical roles in shaping rhizosphere microbial communities, and the ability of motile bacteria to respond to these gradients mediates competitive colonization of root surfaces. Root exudates are complex chemical mixtures that are spatially and temporally dynamic. Identifying the exact chemical(s) that mediates the recruitment of soil bacteria to specific regions of the roots is thus challenging. Here, we connect patterns of bacterial chemotaxis responses and sensing by chemoreceptors to chemicals found in root exudate gradients and identify key chemical signals that shape root surface colonization in different plants and regions of the roots. 
    more » « less