Breaking News
May 26, 2018 - Study links cell size with commitment to division
May 26, 2018 - Researchers develop new, rapid blood test to detect liver damage
May 26, 2018 - Researchers discover cascade of immune processes linked to poor outcomes in aggressive breast cancer
May 26, 2018 - New research will use mathematics to solve mysteries in cell biology
May 26, 2018 - Mice remain slim on burger diet
May 26, 2018 - BMC receives $13.5 million award to test methods for delivering childhood anxiety treatment
May 26, 2018 - ‘Right to Try Act’ will not benefit terminally-ill patients
May 26, 2018 - Study reveals novel statistical algorithm to identify potential disease genes
May 26, 2018 - Two genes play vital roles in malignant brain cancer
May 26, 2018 - Study explores link between groundwater lithium and diagnoses of bipolar disorder, dementia
May 26, 2018 - Researchers reveal stimulatory effects of myelin on young neural cells
May 26, 2018 - Small part of cellular protein that helps form long-term memories also drives neurodegeneration
May 26, 2018 - Four-legged friends can have heart issues, too
May 26, 2018 - Scientists create small, self-contained spaces inside mammalian cells
May 26, 2018 - Better Social Support Network Protects Black Men Against HIV
May 26, 2018 - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
May 26, 2018 - Burnout, depression can affect ophthalmology residents, study finds
May 26, 2018 - Latinos and African Americans more likely to experience serious depression than Whites
May 26, 2018 - Data from past epidemic could help improve response to future Ebola outbreaks
May 26, 2018 - Researchers provide insight into how the memory molecule limits brain plasticity
May 26, 2018 - OSU biologist describes ‘restoration ecology’ approach toward patient health
May 26, 2018 - New approach to study brown fat could aid in finding treatments for obesity
May 26, 2018 - Could More Fish in the Diet Boost Sex Lives and Fertility?
May 26, 2018 - NTU Singapore and SERI invent new scope to diagnose glaucoma
May 26, 2018 - Cancer cells co-opt pain-sensing ‘neural channel’ to increase tolerance against oxidative stress
May 26, 2018 - Study uncovers why pesticide exposure increases Parkinson’s disease risk in some people
May 26, 2018 - Study finds link between lead exposure and fertility rates
May 26, 2018 - Delivery of standardized diabetes care could help achieve equitable health outcomes for all patients
May 26, 2018 - FDA authorizes marketing of OsteoDetect software for detecting wrist fractures
May 26, 2018 - Children and adolescents growing up in extreme societal conditions more likely to resort to violence
May 26, 2018 - New study puts forth most comprehensive tree of life for malaria parasites
May 26, 2018 - UVA researchers establish new guidelines for explorers of the submicroscopic world inside us
May 26, 2018 - Princeton Instruments and C-SOPS announce collaboration on innovative pharmaceutical technology
May 26, 2018 - New research shows why babies need to move in the womb
May 26, 2018 - UK steps forward to tackle global antimicrobial resistance
May 26, 2018 - CRISPR-Cas9-based strategy allows researchers to precisely alter hundreds of different genes
May 26, 2018 - Novoheart announces next generation of ‘Human heart-in-a-jar’ technology for advanced drug discovery
May 26, 2018 - UT Southwestern-led researchers find new way to determine prognosis of invasive kidney cancer
May 26, 2018 - Researchers develop film to prevent bacteria from growing on dental retainers and aligners
May 26, 2018 - Mobile health intervention for people with serious mental illness as effective as clinic-based treatment
May 26, 2018 - Vaginal estradiol tablets outperform moisturizers when treating vulvovaginal problems
May 26, 2018 - Researchers call for new genetic tests for congenital diseases
May 26, 2018 - KHN’s ‘What the Health?’ Campaign promises kept, plus ‘nerd reports’
May 26, 2018 - AARDA collaborates with Allegheny Health Network and new AHN Autoimmunity Institute
May 26, 2018 - Lung-on-a-chip technology could streamline drug-testing for pulmonary fibrosis
May 26, 2018 - Researchers work together to solve mystery of motor neuron death in ALS patients
May 26, 2018 - Study finds early antibiotic initiation for majority of premature infants
May 26, 2018 - New environmental monitoring project finds increased numbers of deer ticks in Southern Indiana
May 26, 2018 - Pediatricians Should Advocate for Life Support Training
May 26, 2018 - Cannabidiol significantly reduces seizures in patients with severe form of epilepsy
May 26, 2018 - Allergies can have serious, far-reaching consequences on adolescents
May 26, 2018 - Scientists develop lab-based system to study mechanisms of common liver disease
May 25, 2018 - New guidelines may help pathologists to more accurately classify and diagnose invasive melanoma
May 25, 2018 - Immune cells promote lung cancer metastases by forming clots in tumors, study finds
May 25, 2018 - Can Excess Weight in Toddlers Cause Brain Drain?
May 25, 2018 - Studying insight
May 25, 2018 - Researchers reveal potent new mechanism of action for treatment of IBD
May 25, 2018 - Study shows lack of follow-up care for patients with concussion
May 25, 2018 - Study establishes the importance of haploid cells
May 25, 2018 - Coveted BMJ award bestowed on The Clatterbridge Cancer Center
May 25, 2018 - AACN outlines evidence-based protocols and clinical strategies to manage alarms
May 25, 2018 - Origami inspires researchers to develop new solution for tissue regeneration
May 25, 2018 - Melorheostosis – Genetics Home Reference
May 25, 2018 - Non-addictive pain medication changing therapy for substance use disorders
May 25, 2018 - Delayed lactate measurements in sepsis patients increase risk of in-hospital death
May 25, 2018 - Researchers identify novel epigenetic mutations as cause of neurodevelopmental, congenital disorders
May 25, 2018 - UD researchers examine connection between DNA replication in HPV and cancer
May 25, 2018 - Researchers identify neurons that play key role in aggressive behavior
May 25, 2018 - Snail’s eye inspires new type of RIOCATH urinary catheter
May 25, 2018 - Russian researchers develop high-tech device-transformer for ultrasound examination
May 25, 2018 - Researchers discover unexpected chemosensor pathway for predator odor-evoked innate fear behaviors
May 25, 2018 - Researchers build 3-D printer that offers sweet solution to making detailed structures
May 25, 2018 - Nearly one in three people know someone addicted to opioids
May 25, 2018 - Research suggests link between faulty gene, alcohol, and heart failure
May 25, 2018 - New findings could help fine-tune treatment for cancer patients
May 25, 2018 - New cancer treatment approach targets specific sugar receptors
May 25, 2018 - Skin responsible for uptake of cancer-causing compounds during barbecuing than lungs
May 25, 2018 - Early-onset cannabis use linked to further drug abuse problems
May 25, 2018 - Covered California takes aim at hospital C-section rates
May 25, 2018 - FDA Approves Palynziq (pegvaliase-pqpz) for the Treatment of Adults with Phenylketonuria
Flies may be more potent pathogen carriers than previously thought

Flies may be more potent pathogen carriers than previously thought

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Flies can be more than pesky picnic crashers, they may be potent pathogen carriers, too, according to an international team of researchers.

In a study of the microbiomes of 116 houseflies and blowflies from three different continents, researchers found, in some cases, these flies carried hundreds of different species of bacteria, many of which are harmful to humans. Because flies often live close to humans, scientists have long suspected they played a role in carrying and spreading diseases, but this study, which was originally initiated at Penn State’s Eberly College of Science, adds further proof, as well as insights into the extent of that threat.

“We believe that this may show a mechanism for pathogen transmission that has been overlooked by public health officials, and flies may contribute to the rapid transmission of pathogens in outbreak situations,” said Donald Bryant, Ernest C. Pollard Professor of Biotechnology and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Penn State.

According to Stephan Schuster, former professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Penn State, and now research director at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, the researchers were able to investigate the microbial content of individual fly body parts, including legs and wings. The legs appear to transfer most of the microbial organisms from one surface to another, he added.

“The legs and wings show the highest microbial diversity in the fly body, suggesting that bacteria use the flies as airborne shuttles,” said Schuster. “It may be that bacteria survive their journey, growing and spreading on a new surface. In fact, the study shows that each step of hundreds that a fly has taken leaves behind a microbial colony track, if the new surface supports bacterial growth.”

Blowflies and houseflies — both carrion fly species — are often exposed to unhygienic matter because they use feces and decaying organic matter to nurture their young, where they could pick up bacteria that could act as pathogens to humans, plants and animals. The study also indicates that blowflies and houseflies share over 50 percent of their microbiome, a mixture of host-related microorganisms and those acquired from the environments they inhabit. Surprisingly, flies collected from stables carried fewer pathogens than those collected from urban environments.

The researchers, who report their findings in the current issue of Scientific Reports, found 15 instances of the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori, a pathogen often causing ulcers in the human gut, largely in the blowfly samples collected in Brazil. The known route of transmission of Helicobacter has never considered flies as a possible vector for the disease, said Schuster.

The potential, then, for flies to carry diseases may increase when more people are present.

“It will really make you think twice about eating that potato salad that’s been sitting out at your next picnic,” Bryant said. “It might be better to have that picnic in the woods, far away from urban environments, not a central park.”

Ana Carolina Junqueira, professor of genetics and genomics at the Federal University of Rio De Janeiro and previous postdoctoral fellow at the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE), said that the novel genomic and computational methods used for the study allowed the team an unprecedented look at the microbial community carried by flies.

“This is the first study that depicts the entire microbial DNA content of insect vectors using unbiased methods,” Junqueira said. “Blowflies and houseflies are considered major mechanical vectors worldwide, but their full potential for microbial transmission was never analyzed comprehensively using modern molecular techniques and deep DNA sequencing.”

Flies may not be all bad, however. The researchers suggest they could turn into helpers for human society, perhaps even serving as living drones that can act as an early-warning system for diseases.

“For one, the environmental sequencing of flies may use the insects as proxies that can inform on the microbial content of any given environment that otherwise would be hard or impossible to sample,” said Schuster. “In fact, the flies could be intentionally released as autonomous bionic drones into even the smallest spaces and crevices and, upon being recaptured, inform about any biotic material they have encountered.”

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles