Nitric oxide gas produced by a type of harmful bacteria lets roundworms know to stay away from it, says a new study published in eLife.

The findings reveal a set of proteins needed for the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) to avoid the pathogenic bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA14) – a microorganism that produces and releases nitric oxide. In particular, the study shows that a protein called thioredoxin determines the time course of the worms’ sensory response to the gas.

Link to full journal release on study co-led by MGH investigator Yingsong Hao.