Cellular and Organismal Responses to Infections in Caenorhabditis elegans

Adam Filipowicz, Alejandro Aballay, Varsha Singh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has emerged as a powerful model system to study cellular responses to microbial infections in the context of a whole animal. Like other free-living nematodes, the one-millimeter-long nematode C. elegans lives in the soil and on rotting fruit, where it is in contact with several microbes, including human microbial pathogens. While it lacks an adaptive immune system and professional phagocytes involved in defense against pathogens, it possesses mechanisms to recognize different microbes and to respond accordingly. C. elegans does not seem to have conserved pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) for pathogen detection through known microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs). Still, it can recognize pathogen attacks through different mechanisms, including the neuronal sensation of bacterial cues and detection of disturbances of cellular homeostasis. The immune response mounted by C. elegans upon pathogen infection comprises evolutionarily conserved signaling pathways that result in avoidance of pathogens and the induction of immune effector mechanisms to combat infections.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Cell Biology
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
EditorsRalph A. Bradshaw, Gerald W. Hart, Philip D. Stahl
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780128216248
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Behavioral immunity
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Cellular homeostasis
  • Cellular response to infection
  • Effector-triggered immunity
  • ER-stress
  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Immune effectors
  • Innate immunity
  • Microbial pathogens
  • Neuroimmune interactions
  • Pathogen avoidance
  • Unfolded protein response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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