Use of bioluminescent bacterial biosensors to investigate the role of free-living helminths as reservoirs and vectors of Salmonella

Lizeth Lacharme-Lora, Sarah E. Perkins, Tom J. Humphrey, Peter John Hudson, Vyv Salisbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Free-living microbivorous helminths that consume pathogenic bacteria could offer an environmental refuge for those pathogens and also, in the case of accidental ingestion, could transmit food-borne pathogens to humans and livestock. We tested this hypothesis by comparing the survival of Salmonella bacteria that had been ingested by the helminth Caenorhabditis elegans with that of the bacteria alone, in a series of experiments to mimic harsh environmental conditions. Using lux gene technology to record the in vivo growth of Salmonella we found that when inside C. elegans, the Salmonella exhibited enhanced survival at pH 2 and 3, in the presence of chlorine and when exposed to UV irradiation, thereby providing an environmental refuge or reservoir for the bacteria. On inoculating laboratory mice with C. elegans that had been fed on bioluminescent Salmonella, real-time imaging showed that animals developed a systemic bacterial infection, indicating that free-living helminths could play a role as a vector of pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-207
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology Reports
Volume1
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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