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Bacteria increase host micronutrient availability: mechanisms revealed by studies in C. elegans

Maynard, Claire and Weinkove, David (2020) 'Bacteria increase host micronutrient availability: mechanisms revealed by studies in C. elegans.', Genes & Nutrition, 15 . p. 4.


Micronutrients cannot be synthesized by humans and are obtained from three different sources: diet, gut microbiota, and oral supplements. The microbiota generates significant quantities of micronutrients, but the contribution of these compounds to total uptake is unclear. The role of bacteria in the synthesis and uptake of micronutrients and supplements is widely unexplored and may have important implications for human health. The efficacy and safety of several micronutrient supplements, including folic acid, have been questioned due to some evidence of adverse effects on health. The use of the simplified animal-microbe model, Caenorhabditis elegans, and its bacterial food source, Escherichia coli, provides a controllable system to explore the underlying mechanisms by which bacterial metabolism impacts host micronutrient status. These studies have revealed mechanisms by which bacteria may increase the bioavailability of folic acid, B12, and iron. These routes of uptake interact with bacterial metabolism, with the potential to increase bacterial pathogenesis, and thus may be both beneficial and detrimental to host health.

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Publisher statement:This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Date accepted:13 February 2020
Date deposited:24 October 2022
Date of first online publication:05 March 2020
Date first made open access:24 October 2022

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