What’s in a Choice: Linking Food Preference to Life History Outcomes in C. elegans
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C. elegans is a bacteriovore capable of consuming a variety of bacterial species. When presented a choice between bacterial foods C. elegans exhibits dietary preferences that generally correlate with the ability to support fast developmental rates. These preferred foods have therefore been described as “good quality” foods. However, it is not clear how well these foods mimic the worms’ natural diet, nor whether these models are relevant to human diets for health research. Common lab practices skew experimental conditions even further to extremes by exposing worms to a vast excess of food which can have unaddressed consequences on their metabolism. The goal of the work presented here is to use different bacterial strains of variable quality to link C. elegans food preference with observed physiological outcomes. This dietary profile allows a better understanding on the internal calculus of resource acquisition behaviors and dietary choice as well as how resources become internally allocated. In order to create this profile we use an array of novel and traditional physiological assays that allow for fine resolution of life-history traits such as longevity, health, and reproduction.