Animals possess conserved mechanisms to detect pathogens and to improve survival in their presence by altering their own behavior and physiology. Here, we utilize Caenorhabditis elegans as a model host to ask whether bacterial volatiles constitute microbe-associated molecular patterns. Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we identify six prominent volatiles released by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We show that a specific volatile, 1-undecene, activates nematode odor sensory neurons inducing both flight and fight responses in worms. Using behavioral assays, we show that worms are repelled by 1-undecene and that this aversion response is driven by the detection of this volatile through AWB odor sensory neurons. Furthermore, we find that 1-undecene odor can induce immune effectors specific to P. aeruginosa via AWB neurons and that brief pre-exposure of worms to the odor enhances their survival upon subsequent bacterial infection. These results show that 1-undecene derived from P. aeruginosa serves as a pathogen-associated molecular pattern for the induction of protective responses in C. elegans.
Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; 1-undecene; flight-or-fight response; olfaction.
© 2021 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.