Authors: Emily Stone, Emily Durkin, Elise Richardson, Brian Lazzaro, Nick Keiser
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Emily Durkin
College: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The Keiser lab is examining the ability of facultative parasites to transmit bacterial infections using a local species of mite (Macrocheles muscaedomesticae). Previous work has shown that facultatively parasitic mites can transmit vertically-transmitted microbes between fly hosts during feeding. We wanted to determine if facultatively parasitic mites can serve as a competent vector in the transmission of horizontally communicable microbes in flies. We use a local facultatively parasitic mite (Macrocheles muscaedomesticae) and fruit fly host (Drosophila melanogaster) model system to test whether mites are competent vectors for a deadly bacterial arthropod pathogen Serretia marcescens. Thus far, the Keiser lab has observed that flies infected with S. marcenscens will expire within 24-48 hours. Mites have also been shown to contract S. marcescens after attaching to and feeding on an infected fly host. Currently, continuing research is underway to determine if M. muscaedomesticae can transmit S. marcescens from an infected fly host to a second, uninfected fly.