• Open Access

Lifespan extension in Caenorhabditis elegans by complete removal of food


  • Tammi L. Kaeberlein and Erica D. Smith contributed equally to this work.

Matt Kaeberlein, Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Box 357470, Seattle, WA 98195–7470, USA. Tel.: (206) 543-4849; fax: (206) 543-3644; e-mail: kaeber@u.washington.edu


A partial reduction in food intake has been found to increase lifespan in many different organisms. We report here a new dietary restriction regimen in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, based on the standard agar plate lifespan assay, in which adult worms are maintained in the absence of a bacterial food source. These findings represent the first report in any organism of lifespan extension in response to prolonged starvation. Removal of bacterial food increases lifespan to a greater extent than partial reduction of food through a mechanism that is distinct from insulin/IGF-like signaling and the Sir2-family deacetylase, SIR-2.1. Removal of bacterial food also increases lifespan when initiated in postreproductive adults, suggesting that dietary restriction started during middle age can result in a substantial longevity benefit that is independent of reproduction.