Visible light reduces C. elegans longevity

Nat Commun. 2018 Mar 2;9(1):927. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-02934-5.


The transparent nematode Caenorhabditis elegans can sense UV and blue-violet light to alter behavior. Because high-dose UV and blue-violet light are not a common feature outside of the laboratory setting, we asked what role, if any, could low-intensity visible light play in C. elegans physiology and longevity. Here, we show that C. elegans lifespan is inversely correlated to the time worms were exposed to visible light. While circadian control, lite-1 and tax-2 do not contribute to the lifespan reduction, we demonstrate that visible light creates photooxidative stress along with a general unfolded-protein response that decreases the lifespan. Finally, we find that long-lived mutants are more resistant to light stress, as well as wild-type worms supplemented pharmacologically with antioxidants. This study reveals that transparent nematodes are sensitive to visible light radiation and highlights the need to standardize methods for controlling the unrecognized biased effect of light during lifespan studies in laboratory conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / radiation effects*
  • Light / adverse effects*
  • Longevity / radiation effects*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Photoperiod
  • Unfolded Protein Response


  • Antioxidants
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Acetylcysteine