1-Undecene from Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an olfactory signal for flight-or-fight response in Caenorhabditis elegans

Deep Prakash, Akhil MS, Buddidhathi Radhika, Radhika Venkatesan, Sreekanth H. Chalasani, Varsha Singh (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere106938
Number of pages12
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number13
Early online date4 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • 1-undecene
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • flight-or-fight response
  • olfaction
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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