Joy Alcedo

Joy Alcedo

Associate Professor



 Department of Biological Sciences, Rm 2109/Rm 2177


Joy Alcedo

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  •  Sensory influence on C. elegans physiology


For optimal survival, an animal has to process complex environmental information to generate the appropriate physiological responses. An interesting demonstration of this sensory influence on physiology is the observation that subsets of gustatory and olfactory neurons can either shorten or lengthen the lifespan of the nematode C. elegans, responses that are also present in the fruit fly Drosophila.

Accordingly, the nature of these neurons suggests that some of the cues that affect lifespan are food-derived and that perception of these cues alone can exert different effects on lifespan. Consistent with this idea, we have recently found that the sensory system influences lifespan through food-type recognition, which is distinct from food-level restriction, also more commonly known as calorie restriction. In addition, we have shown that the sensory influence on lifespan via food-type recognition involves the activities of specific neuropeptide signaling pathways under particular environmental conditions.

Sensory neurons affect lifespan presumably by promoting physiological changes that alter organismal homeostasis, which is also known to be modulated by neuropeptide signaling. Besides the neuropeptide neuromedin U pathway that processes food-type information that alters C. elegans lifespan, other neuropeptides that affect physiology and lifespan include the many insulin-like peptides (ILPs) of C. elegans and Drosophila. Indeed, our recent data suggest the existence of a C. elegans ILP code that regulates distinct developmental switches, which can lead to physiological state(s) that affect lifespan. In the future, we aim to determine the molecular and cellular bases through which these different neuropeptides process sensory information and promote physiological changes, such as developmental or lifespan changes. Thus, considering that age and environment are significant risk factors in many diseases, our studies should yield insight into mechanisms of many age-related diseases.


  • 1997: PhD, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2004: Postdoctoral fellow, University of California, San Francisco

Selected publications

Alcedo, J., and Prahlad, V. (2020). Neuromodulators: an essential part of survival. J Neurogenet 34. doi: 10.1080/01677063.2020.1839066.

Wu, T., Duan, F., Yang, W., Liu, H., Caballero, A., Fernandes de Abreu, D.A., Dar, A.R., Alcedo, J., Ch’ng, Q.L., Butcher, R.A., and Zhang, Y. (2019). Pheromones modulate learning by regulating the balanced signals of two insulin-like peptides. Neuron 104, 1095-1109.

Ewald, C.Y., Hourihan, J.M., Bland, M.S., Obieglo, C., Katic, I., Moronetti Mazzeo, L.E., Alcedo, J., Blackwell, T.K., and Hynes, N.E. (2017). NADPH oxidase-mediated redox signaling promotes oxidative stress resistance and longevity through memo-1 in C. elegans. eLife 6, e19493.

Artan, M., Jeong, D.E., Lee, D., Kim, Y.I., Son, H.G., Husain, Z., Kim, J., Altintas, O., Kim, K., Alcedo, J., and Lee, S.J. (2016). Food-derived sensory cues modulate longevity via distinct neuroendocrine insulin-like peptides. Genes Dev. 30, 1047-1057.

Ostojic, I., Boll, W., Waterson, M.J., Chan, T., Chandra, R., Pletcher, S.D., and Alcedo, J. (2014). Positive and negative gustatory inputs affect Drosophila lifespan partly in parallel to dFOXO signaling. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111, 8143-8148.

Waterson, M.J., Chung, B.Y., Harvanek, Z.M., Ostojic, I., Alcedo, J., and Pletcher, S.D. (2014). Water sensor ppk28 modulates Drosophila lifespan and physiology through AKH signaling. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111, 8137-8142.

Fernandes de Abreu, D.A.*, Caballero, A.*, Fardel, P., Stroustrup, N., Chen, Z., et al., Antebi, A.+, Blanc, E.+, Apfeld, J.+, Zhang, Y.+, Alcedo, J.+, and Ch’ng, Q.L.+ (2014). An insulin-to-insulin regulatory network orchestrates phenotypic specificity in development and physiology. PLoS Genet 10, e1004225. *:Equal contributions. +:Co-corresponding authors.

Chen, Z., Hendricks, M., Cornils, A., Maier, W., Alcedo, J., and Zhang, Y. (2013). Two insulin-like peptides antagonistically regulate aversive olfactory learning in C. elegans. Neuron 77, 572-585.

Cornils, A., Gloeck, M., Chen, Z., Zhang, Y., and Alcedo, J. (2011). Specific insulin-like peptides encode sensory information to regulate distinct developmental processes. Development 138, 1183-1193.

Fierro-Gonzalez, J. C., Cornils, A., Alcedo, J., Vizuete, A. M.+, and Swoboda, P.+ (2011). The thioredoxin TRX-1 modulates the function of an insulin-like neuropeptide during dauer formation in Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS One 6, e16561. +: Co-corresponding authors

Maier, W.*, Adilov, B.*, Regenass, M., and Alcedo, J. (2010). A neuromedin U receptor acts with the sensory system to modulate food type-dependent effects on C. elegans lifespan. PLoS Biol 8, e1000376. *: Equal contributions.

Noll, H., Alcedo, J., Frei, E., Hunt, J., Matranga, V., Hochstrasser, M., Aebersold, R., Newitt, R., and Noll, M. (2007). The major cell adhesion glycoprotein of the sea urchin embryo is an ironless, calcium-binding member of the transferrin family. Dev. Biol. 310, 54-70.

Alcedo, J., and Kenyon, C. (2004). Regulation of C. elegans longevity by specific gustatory and olfactory neurons. Neuron 41, 45-55. Cover; Featured article. (Previewed by Adam Antebi (2004). Long life: a matter of taste (and smell). Neuron 41, 1-3.)

Alcedo, J.*, Zou, Y.*, and Noll, M. (2000). Posttranscriptional regulation of Smoothened is part of a self-correcting mechanism in the Hedgehog signaling system. Mol. Cell 6, 457-465. *: Equal contributions.

Alcedo, J., Ayzenzon, M., Von Ohlen, T., Noll, M., and Hooper, J. E. (1996). The Drosophila smoothened gene encodes a seven-pass membrane protein, a putative receptor for the Hedgehog signal. Cell 86, 221-232.

Currently teaching

  • BIO 5620 (3 Credits), Winter 2021

Courses taught

BIO 2600 (3 credits), Fall 2020

BIO 5620 (3 credits) / BIO 5610 (1 credit), Winter 2020