Fluoroacetic Acid Is a Potent and Specific Inhibitor of Reproduction in the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans


  • Paul J. Middendorf
  • David B. Dusenbery


Fluoroacetic acid is known to lead to inhibition of aconitase and block both the Krebs and glyoxylate cycles. In this study, we discovered it to be a potent and specific inhibitor of reproduction in a bioassay using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Fluoroacetic acid added to the growth medium reduced reproduction in the second generation by 50% at concentrations 3,000 times lower than the concentrations that reduced 24-hour survival by 50%. Four concentrations (2, 4, 8, and 17 mM) of fluoroacetic acid were tested thoroughly. At the two lower concentrations, the survival rates were unaffected, and first-generation reproduction was greatly reduced but not completely eliminated. Survival was reduced at the higher concentrations. Malonate, which inhibits the Krebs cycle, and itaconate, which inhibits the glyoxylate cycle, were tested individually and in combination. The combination did not specifically inhibit reproduction, suggesting another mode of action for fluoroacetic acid. Fluoroacetic acid shows promise as a tool in studies requiring age synchrony. Key words: aconitase, aging, Caenorhabditis elegans, fluoroacetic acid, fluorocitrate, lethality, nematode, reproduction.