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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 621709, 12 pages
Research Article

Impact of a Complex Food Microbiota on Energy Metabolism in the Model Organism Caenorhabditis elegans

1Department of Biology and Biotechnology “C. Darwin”, Sapienza University of Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy
2Food & Nutrition Research Center (CRA-NUT), Agricultural Research Council, Via Ardeatina 546, 00178 Rome, Italy

Received 5 September 2014; Accepted 11 November 2014

Academic Editor: Haruki Kitazawa

Copyright © 2015 Elena Zanni et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is widely used as a model system for research on aging, development, and host-pathogen interactions. Little is currently known about the mechanisms underlying the effects exerted by foodborne microbes. We took advantage of C. elegans to evaluate the impact of foodborne microbiota on well characterized physiological features of the worms. Foodborne lactic acid bacteria (LAB) consortium was used to feed nematodes and its composition was evaluated by 16S rDNA analysis and strain typing before and after colonization of the nematode gut. Lactobacillus delbrueckii, L. fermentum, and Leuconostoc lactis were identified as the main species and shown to display different worm gut colonization capacities. LAB supplementation appeared to decrease nematode lifespan compared to the animals fed with the conventional Escherichia coli nutrient source or a probiotic bacterial strain. Reduced brood size was also observed in microbiota-fed nematodes. Moreover, massive accumulation of lipid droplets was revealed by BODIPY staining. Altered expression of nhr-49, pept-1, and tub-1 genes, associated with obesity phenotypes, was demonstrated by RT-qPCR. Since several pathways are evolutionarily conserved in C. elegans, our results highlight the nematode as a valuable model system to investigate the effects of a complex microbial consortium on host energy metabolism.