C. elegans feed yolk to their young in a form of primitive lactation

Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 5;12(1):5801. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25821-y.


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans exhibits rapid senescence that is promoted by the insulin/IGF-1 signalling (IIS) pathway via regulated processes that are poorly understood. IIS also promotes production of yolk for egg provisioning, which in post-reproductive animals continues in an apparently futile fashion, supported by destructive repurposing of intestinal biomass that contributes to senescence. Here we show that post-reproductive mothers vent yolk which can be consumed by larvae and promotes their growth. This implies that later yolk production is not futile; instead vented yolk functions similarly to milk. Moreover, yolk venting is promoted by IIS. These findings suggest that a self-destructive, lactation-like process effects resource transfer from postreproductive C. elegans mothers to offspring, in a fashion reminiscent of semelparous organisms that reproduce in a single, suicidal burst. That this process is promoted by IIS provides insights into how and why IIS shortens lifespan in C. elegans.

PMID:34611154 | DOI:10.1038/s41467-021-25821-y


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