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author:("Aksoy, sera5")
1.  Intercommunity effects on microbiome and GpSGHV density regulation in tsetse flies 
Journal of invertebrate pathology  2012;112(0):S32-S39.
Tsetse flies have a highly regulated and defined microbial fauna made of 3 bacterial symbionts (obligate Wigglesworthia glossinidia, commensal Sodalis glossinidius and parasitic Wolbachia pipientis) in addition to a DNA virus (Glossina pallidipes Salivary gland Hypertrophy Virus, GpSGHV). It has been possible to rear flies in the absence of either Wigglesworthia or in totally aposymbiotic state by dietary supplementation of tsetse’s bloodmeal. In the absence of Wigglesworthia, tsetse females are sterile, and adult progeny are immune compromised. The functional contributions for Sodalist are less known, while Wolbachia cause reproductive manupulations known as Cytoplasmic Incompatibility (CI). High GpSGHV virus titers result in reduced fecundity and lifespan, and have compromised efforts to colonize flies in the insectary for large rearing purposes. Here we investigated the within community effects on the density regulation of the individual microbiome partners in tsetse lines with different symbiotic compositions. We show that absence of Wigglesworthia results in loss of Sodalis in subsequent generations possibly due to nutritional dependancies between the symbiotic partners. While an initial decrease in Wolbachia and GpSGHV levels are also noted in the absence of Wigglesworthia, these infections eventually reach homeostatic levels indicating adaptations to the new host immune environment or nutritional ecology. Absence of all bacterial symbionts also results in an initial reduction of viral titers, which recover in the second generation. Our findings suggest that in addition to the host immune system, interdependencies between symbiotic partners result in a highly tuned density regulation for tsetse’s microbiome.
PMCID: PMC3772524  PMID: 22874746
symbiont; virus; intercommunity; tsetse
2.  Tissue distribution and transmission routes for the Tsetse fly endosymbionts 
Journal of invertebrate pathology  2012;112(0):S116-S122.
The tsetse fly Glossina is the vector of the protozoan Trypanosoma brucei spp., which causes Human and Animal African Trypanosomiasis in sub-Saharan African countries. To supplement their unbalanced vertebrate bloodmeal diet, flies permanently harbor the obligate bacterium Wigglesworthia glossinidia, which resides in bacteriocytes in the midgut bacteriome organ as well as in milk gland organ. Tsetse flies also harbor the secondary facultative endosymbionts (S-symbiont) Sodalis glossinidius that infects various tissues and Wolbachia that infects germ cells. Tsetse flies display viviparous reproductive biology where a single embryo hatches and completes its entire larval development in utero and receives nourishments in the form of milk secreted by mother’s accessory glands (milk glands). To analyze the precise tissue distribution of the three endosymbiotic bacteria and to infer the way by which each symbiotic partner is transmitted from parent to progeny, we conducted a Fluorescence In situ Hybridization (FISH) study to survey bacterial spatial distribution across the fly tissues. We show that bacteriocytes are mono-infected with Wigglesworthia, while both Wigglesworthia and Sodalis are present in the milk gland lumen. Sodalis was further seen in the uterus, spermathecae, fat body, milk and intracellular in the milk gland cells. Contrary to Wigglesworthia and Sodalis, Wolbachia were the only bacteria infecting oocytes, trophocytes, and embryos at early embryonic stages. Furthermore, Wolbachia were not seen in the milk gland and in the fat body. This work further highlights the diversity of symbiont interactions in multipartner associations and supports two maternal routes of symbiont inheritance in the tsetse fly: Wolbachia through oocytes, and, Wigglesworthia and Sodalis by means of milk gland bacterial infection at early post-embryonic stages.
PMCID: PMC3772537  PMID: 22537833
Tsetse fly; Glossina; Endosymbiont; FISH; Transmission
4.  Characterization of the Achromobactin Iron Acquisition Operon in Sodalis glossinidius 
Sodalis glossinidius is a facultative, extra- and intracellular symbiont found in most tissues of the tsetse fly (Glossinia sp.). Sodalis has a putative achromobactin siderophore iron acquisition system on the pSG1 plasmid. Reverse transcription (RT)-PCR analysis revealed that the achromobactin operon is transcribed as a single polycistronic molecule and is expressed when Sodalis is within the tsetse fly. Expression of the achromobactin operon was repressed under iron-replete conditions; in a mutant that lacks the iron-responsive transcriptional repressor protein Fur, expression was aberrantly derepressed under these iron-replete conditions, indicating that the Fur protein repressed achromobactin gene expression when iron was plentiful. A putative Fur binding site within the Sodalis achromobactin promoter bound Fur in Escherichia coli Fur titration assays. Wild-type Sodalis produced detectable siderophore in vitro, but a mutation in the putative achromobactin biosynthesis gene acsD eliminated detectable siderophore production in Sodalis. Reduced growth of the siderophore synthesis mutant was reconstituted by addition of exogenous achromobactin, suggesting the strain retains a functional siderophore transport system; however, reduced growth of a Sodalis ferric-siderophore outer membrane receptor mutant with a mutation in acr was not reconstituted by exogenous siderophore due to its defective transporter. The Sodalis siderophore synthesis mutant showed reduced growth in tsetse that lacked endogenous symbionts (aposymbiotic) when the flies were inoculated with Sodalis intrathoracically, but not when inoculated per os. Our findings suggest that Sodalis siderophores play a role in iron acquisition in certain tsetse fly tissues and provide evidence for the regulation of iron acquisition mechanisms in insect symbionts.
PMCID: PMC3623160  PMID: 23435882
5.  Genetically Distinct Glossina fuscipes fuscipes Populations in the Lake Kyoga Region of Uganda and Its Relevance for Human African Trypanosomiasis 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:614721.
Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) are the sole vectors of Trypanosoma brucei—the agent of human (HAT) and animal (AAT) trypanosomiasis. Glossina fuscipes fuscipes (Gff) is the main vector species in Uganda—the only country where the two forms of HAT disease (rhodesiense and gambiense) occur, with gambiense limited to the northwest. Gff populations cluster in three genetically distinct groups in northern, southern, and western Uganda, respectively, with a contact zone present in central Uganda. Understanding the dynamics of this contact zone is epidemiologically important as the merger of the two diseases is a major health concern. We used mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA data from Gff samples in the contact zone to understand its spatial extent and temporal stability. We show that this zone is relatively narrow, extending through central Uganda along major rivers with south to north introgression but displaying no sex-biased dispersal. Lack of obvious vicariant barriers suggests that either environmental conditions or reciprocal competitive exclusion could explain the patterns of genetic differentiation observed. Lack of admixture between northern and southern populations may prevent the sympatry of the two forms of HAT disease, although continued control efforts are needed to prevent the recolonization of tsetse-free regions by neighboring populations.
PMCID: PMC3807537  PMID: 24199195
6.  Tsetse-Wolbachia symbiosis: Comes of age and has great potential for pest and disease control 
Journal of invertebrate pathology  2012;112(0):S94-103.
Tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) are the sole vectors of African trypanosomes, the causative agent of sleeping sickness in human and nagana in animals. Like most eukaryotic organisms, Glossina species have established symbiotic associations with bacteria. Three main symbiotic bacteria have been found in tsetse flies: Wigglesworthia glossinidia, an obligate symbiotic bacterium, the secondary endosymbiont Sodalis glossinidius and the reproductive symbiont Wolbachia pipientis. In the present review, we discuss recent studies on the detection and characterization of Wolbachia infections in Glossina species, the horizontal transfer of Wolbachia genes to tsetse chromosomes, the ability of this symbiont to induce cytoplasmic incompatibility in Glossina morsitans morsitans and also how new environment-friendly tools for disease control could be developed by harnessing Wolbachia symbiosis.
PMCID: PMC3772542  PMID: 22835476
Glossina; Wolbachia; Insect symbiosis; Sodalis; Wigglesworthia; Paratransgenesis
7.  Evaluating Paratransgenesis as a Potential Control Strategy for African Trypanosomiasis 
Genetic-modification strategies are currently being developed to reduce the transmission of vector-borne diseases, including African trypanosomiasis. For tsetse, the vector of African trypanosomiasis, a paratransgenic strategy is being considered: this approach involves modification of the commensal symbiotic bacteria Sodalis to express trypanosome-resistance-conferring products. Modified Sodalis can then be driven into the tsetse population by cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) from Wolbachia bacteria. To evaluate the effectiveness of this paratransgenic strategy in controlling African trypanosomiasis, we developed a three-species mathematical model of trypanosomiasis transmission among tsetse, humans, and animal reservoir hosts. Using empirical estimates of CI parameters, we found that paratransgenic tsetse have the potential to eliminate trypanosomiasis, provided that any extra mortality caused by Wolbachia colonization is low, that the paratransgene is effective at protecting against trypanosome transmission, and that the target tsetse species comprises a large majority of the tsetse population in the release location.
Author Summary
African sleeping sickness is a fatal disease occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. The parasites that cause African sleeping sickness are transmitted between humans and livestock by the tsetse fly. Controlling the spread of the parasite by tsetse flies has been proposed as a promising strategy for reducing the incidence of sleeping sickness. One potential control method relies on releasing genetically modified tsetse that are resistant to carrying the sleeping sickness parasite. For this strategy to be successful, resistant tsetse must be able to invade the susceptible tsetse population. Here, we used a mathematical model to assess the feasibility of such a strategy and the implications for sleeping sickness prevalence in humans and livestock. We found that the strategy has the potential to eliminate sleeping sickness, provided that the genetic modification is effective at protecting against trypanosome transmission and provided that the target tsetse species comprises a large majority of the tsetse population in the release location.
PMCID: PMC3744416  PMID: 23967363
8.  Wolbachia, Sodalis and trypanosome co-infections in natural populations of Glossina austeni and Glossina pallidipes 
Parasites & Vectors  2013;6:232.
Tsetse flies harbor at least three bacterial symbionts: Wigglesworthia glossinidia, Wolbachia pipientis and Sodalis glossinidius. Wigglesworthia and Sodalis reside in the gut in close association with trypanosomes and may influence establishment and development of midgut parasite infections. Wolbachia has been shown to induce reproductive effects in infected tsetse. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of these endosymbionts in natural populations of G. austeni and G. pallidipes and to assess the degree of concurrent infections with trypanosomes.
Fly samples analyzed originated from Kenyan coastal forests (trapped in 2009–2011) and South African G. austeni collected in 2008. The age structure was estimated by standard methods. G. austeni (n=298) and G. pallidipes (n= 302) were analyzed for infection with Wolbachia and Sodalis using PCR. Trypanosome infection was determined either by microscopic examination of dissected organs or by PCR amplification.
Overall we observed that G. pallidipes females had a longer lifespan (70 d) than G. austeni (54 d) in natural populations. Wolbachia infections were present in all G. austeni flies analysed, while in contrast, this symbiont was absent from G. pallidipes. The density of Wolbachia infections in the Kenyan G. austeni population was higher than that observed in South African flies. The infection prevalence of Sodalis ranged from 3.7% in G. austeni to about 16% in G. pallidipes. Microscopic examination of midguts revealed an overall trypanosome infection prevalence of 6% (n = 235) and 5% (n = 552), while evaluation with ITS1 primers indicated a prevalence of about 13% (n = 296) and 10% (n = 302) in G. austeni and G. pallidipes, respectively. The majority of infections (46%) were with T. congolense. Co-infection with all three organisms was observed at 1% and 3.3% in G. austeni and G. pallidipes, respectively. Eleven out of the thirteen (85%) co-infected flies harboured T. congolense and T. simiae parasites. While the association between trypanosomes and Sodalis infection was statistically significant in G. pallidipes (P = 0.0127), the number of co-infected flies was too few for a definite conclusion.
The tsetse populations analyzed differed in the prevalence of symbionts, despite being sympatric and therefore exposed to identical environmental factors. The density of infections with Wolbachia also differed between G. austeni populations. There were too few natural co-infections detected with the Sodalis and trypanosomes to suggest extensive inter-relations between these infections in natural populations. We discuss these findings in the context of potential symbiont-mediated control interventions to reduce parasite infections and/or fly populations.
PMCID: PMC3751944  PMID: 23924682
Glossina; Wolbachia; Sodalis; Trypanosomes; Co-infection; Shimba Hills; Kenya
9.  Sphingomyelinase Activity in Mother's Milk Is Essential for Juvenile Development: A Case from Lactating Tsetse Flies1  
Biology of Reproduction  2012;87(1):17.
Sphingosine is a structural component of sphingolipids. The metabolism of phosphoethanolamine ceramide (sphingomyelin) by sphingomyelinase (SMase), followed by the breakdown of ceramide by ceramidase (CDase) yields sphingosine. Female tsetse fly is viviparous and generates a single progeny within her uterus during each gonotrophic cycle. The mother provides her offspring with nutrients required for development solely via intrauterine lactation. Quantitative PCR showed that acid smase1 (asmase1) increases in mother's milk gland during lactation. aSMase1 was detected in the milk gland and larval gut, indicating this protein is generated during lactation and consumed by the larva. The higher levels of SMase activity in larval gut contents indicate that this enzyme is activated by the low gut pH. In addition, cdase is expressed at high levels in the larval gut. Breakdown of the resulting ceramide is likely accomplished by the larval gut-secreted CDase, which allows absorption of sphingosine. We used the tsetse system to understand the critical role(s) of SMase and CDase during pregnancy and lactation and their downstream effects on adult progeny fitness. Reduction of asmase1 by short interfering RNA negatively impacted pregnancy and progeny performance, resulting in a 4–5-day extension in pregnancy, 10%–15% reduction in pupal mass, lower pupal hatch rates, impaired heat tolerance, reduced symbiont levels, and reduced fecundity of adult progeny. This study suggests that the SMase activity associated with tsetse lactation and larval digestion is similar in function to that of mammalian lactation and represents a critical process for juvenile development, with important effects on the health of progeny during their adulthood.
Sphingomyelinase (SMase) is generated during tsetse fly lactation, but is only activated by acidic conditions within the larval gut contents; reduced SMase levels in tsetse milk leads to impaired progeny development and health.
PMCID: PMC3406556  PMID: 22517621
ceramide; Glossina; lactation; milk; sphingomyelin
10.  OmpA-Mediated Biofilm Formation Is Essential for the Commensal Bacterium Sodalis glossinidius To Colonize the Tsetse Fly Gut 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(21):7760-7768.
Many bacteria successfully colonize animals by forming protective biofilms. Molecular processes that underlie the formation and function of biofilms in pathogenic bacteria are well characterized. In contrast, the relationship between biofilms and host colonization by symbiotic bacteria is less well understood. Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) house 3 maternally transmitted symbionts, one of which is a commensal (Sodalis glossinidius) found in several host tissues, including the gut. We determined that Sodalis forms biofilms in the tsetse gut and that this process is influenced by the Sodalis outer membrane protein A (OmpA). Mutant Sodalis strains that do not produce OmpA (Sodalis ΔOmpA mutants) fail to form biofilms in vitro and are unable to colonize the tsetse gut unless endogenous symbiotic bacteria are present. Our data indicate that in the absence of biofilms, Sodalis ΔOmpA mutant cells are exposed to and eliminated by tsetse's innate immune system, suggesting that biofilms help Sodalis evade the host immune system. Tsetse is the sole vector of pathogenic African trypanosomes, which also reside in the fly gut. Acquiring a better understanding of the dynamics that promote Sodalis colonization of the tsetse gut may enhance the development of novel disease control strategies.
PMCID: PMC3485708  PMID: 22941073
11.  Analysis of lipolysis underlying lactation in the tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans 
Female tsetse flies undergo viviparous reproduction, generating one larva each gonotrophic cycle. Larval nourishment is provided by the mother in the form of milk secretions. The milk consists mostly of lipids during early larval development and shifts to a balanced combination of protein and lipids in the late larval instars. Provisioning of adequate lipids to the accessory gland is an indispensable process for tsetse fecundity. This work investigates the roles of Brummer lipase (Bmm) and the adipokinetic hormone (AKH)/adipokinetic hormone receptor (AKHR) systems on lipid metabolism and mobilization during lactation in tsetse. The contributions of each system were investigated by a knockdown approach utilizing siRNA injections. Starvation experiments revealed that silencing of either system results in prolonged female lifespan. Simultaneous suppression of bmm and akhr prolonged survival further than either individual knockdown. Knockdown of akhr and bmm transcript levels resulted in high levels of whole body lipids at death, indicating an inability to utilize lipid reserves during starvation. Silencing of bmm resulted in delayed oocyte development. Respective reductions in fecundity of 20 and 50% were observed upon knockdown of akhr and bmm, while simultaneous knockdown of both genes resulted in 80% reduction of larval production. Omission of one blood meal during larvigenesis (nutritional stress) after simultaneous knockdown led to almost complete supression of larval production. This phenotype likely results from tsetse’s inability to utilize lipid reserves as loss of both lipolysis systems leads to accumulation and retention of stored lipids during pregnancy. This shows that both Bmm lipolysis and AKH/AKHR signaling are critical for lipolysis required for milk production during tsetse pregnancy, and identifies the underlying mechanisms of lipid metabolism critical to tsetse lactation. The similarities in the lipid metabolic pathways and other aspects of milk production between tsetse and mammals indicate that this fly could be used as a novel model for lactation research.
PMCID: PMC3561780  PMID: 22509523
adipokinetic hormone; Glossina; lipolysis; lactation; Brummer lipase; viviparity
12.  Trypanosome Infection Establishment in the Tsetse Fly Gut Is Influenced by Microbiome-Regulated Host Immune Barriers 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(4):e1003318.
Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) vector pathogenic African trypanosomes, which cause sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in domesticated animals. Additionally, tsetse harbors 3 maternally transmitted endosymbiotic bacteria that modulate their host's physiology. Tsetse is highly resistant to infection with trypanosomes, and this phenotype depends on multiple physiological factors at the time of challenge. These factors include host age, density of maternally-derived trypanolytic effector molecules present in the gut, and symbiont status during development. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms that result in tsetse's resistance to trypanosomes. We found that following parasite challenge, young susceptible tsetse present a highly attenuated immune response. In contrast, mature refractory flies express higher levels of genes associated with humoral (attacin and pgrp-lb) and epithelial (inducible nitric oxide synthase and dual oxidase) immunity. Additionally, we discovered that tsetse must harbor its endogenous microbiome during intrauterine larval development in order to present a parasite refractory phenotype during adulthood. Interestingly, mature aposymbiotic flies (GmmApo) present a strong immune response earlier in the infection process than do WT flies that harbor symbiotic bacteria throughout their entire lifecycle. However, this early response fails to confer significant resistance to trypanosomes. GmmApo adults present a structurally compromised peritrophic matrix (PM), which lines the fly midgut and serves as a physical barrier that separates luminal contents from immune responsive epithelial cells. We propose that the early immune response we observe in GmmApo flies following parasite challenge results from the premature exposure of gut epithelia to parasite-derived immunogens in the absence of a robust PM. Thus, tsetse's PM appears to regulate the timing of host immune induction following parasite challenge. Our results document a novel finding, which is the existence of a positive correlation between tsetse's larval microbiome and the integrity of the emerging adult PM gut immune barrier.
Author Summary
Tsetse flies serve as a host to many micro-organisms. Specifically, this fly houses beneficial endosymbiotic bacteria, and can also serve as a vector of pathogenic trypanosomes across much of sub-Saharan Africa. Although flies feed on parasite-infected reservoir hosts, only a small proportion (1–5%) of individuals that acquire an infectious meal become infected and subsequently transmit disease to a naïve host. Several physiological factors, including tsetse's age, nutritional status and innate immune mechanisms, contribute to trypanosome infection outcomes in the fly. We demonstrate that tsetse's endogenous microbiome also impacts the fly's resistance to parasites. Specifically, we show that tsetse must harbor it's symbiotic bacteria during larval development in order to present a trypanosome-refractory phenotype during adulthood. These microbes appear to indirectly regulate the fly's ability to immunologically detect and respond to the presence of trypanosomes. One of the mechanisms by which these microbes regulate parasite transmission involves modulating the formation of a physical barrier (called the ‘peritrophic matrix’) in their host's gut. Our findings are indicative of the complex functional association that exists between tsetse's symbiotic microbes and host immune mechanisms that regulate trypanosome infection outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3630092  PMID: 23637607
13.  Obligate symbionts activate immune system development in the tsetse fly 
Many insects rely on the presence of symbiotic bacteria for proper immune system function. However, the molecular mechanisms that underlie this phenomenon are poorly understood. Adult tsetse flies (Glossina spp.) house 3 symbiotic bacteria that are vertically transmitted from mother to offspring during this insect's unique viviparous mode of reproduction. Larval tsetse that undergo intrauterine development in the absence of their obligate mutualist, Wigglesworthia, exhibit a compromised immune system during adulthood. In this study we characterize the immune phenotype of tsetse that develop in the absence of all of their endogenous symbiotic microbes. Aposymbiotic tsetse (GmmApo) present a severely compromised immune system that is characterized by the absence of phagocytic hemocytes and atypical expression of immunity-related genes. Correspondingly, these flies quickly succumb to infection with normally non-pathogenic E. coli. The susceptible phenotype exhibited by GmmApo adults can be reversed when they receive hemocytes transplanted from wild-type donor flies prior to infection. Furthermore, the process of immune system development can be restored in intrauterine GmmApo larvae when their moms are fed a diet supplemented with Wigglesworthia cell extracts. Our finding that molecular components of Wigglesworthia exhibit immunostimulatory activity within tsetse is representative of a novel evolutionary adaptation that steadfastly links an obligate symbiont with it's host.
PMCID: PMC3311772  PMID: 22368278
14.  Wolbachia association with the tsetse fly, Glossina fuscipes fuscipes, reveals high levels of genetic diversity and complex evolutionary dynamics 
Wolbachia pipientis, a diverse group of α-proteobacteria, can alter arthropod host reproduction and confer a reproductive advantage to Wolbachia-infected females (cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI)). This advantage can alter host population genetics because Wolbachia-infected females produce more offspring with their own mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotypes than uninfected females. Thus, these host haplotypes become common or fixed (selective sweep). Although simulations suggest that for a CI-mediated sweep to occur, there must be a transient phase with repeated initial infections of multiple individual hosts by different Wolbachia strains, this has not been observed empirically. Wolbachia has been found in the tsetse fly, Glossina fuscipes fuscipes, but it is not limited to a single host haplotype, suggesting that CI did not impact its population structure. However, host population genetic differentiation could have been generated if multiple Wolbachia strains interacted in some populations. Here, we investigated Wolbachia genetic variation in G. f. fuscipes populations of known host genetic composition in Uganda. We tested for the presence of multiple Wolbachia strains using Multi-Locus Sequence Typing (MLST) and for an association between geographic region and host mtDNA haplotype using Wolbachia DNA sequence from a variable locus, groEL (heat shock protein 60).
MLST demonstrated that some G. f. fuscipes carry Wolbachia strains from two lineages. GroEL revealed high levels of sequence diversity within and between individuals (Haplotype diversity = 0.945). We found Wolbachia associated with 26 host mtDNA haplotypes, an unprecedented result. We observed a geographical association of one Wolbachia lineage with southern host mtDNA haplotypes, but it was non-significant (p = 0.16). Though most Wolbachia-infected host haplotypes were those found in the contact region between host mtDNA groups, this association was non-significant (p = 0.17).
High Wolbachia sequence diversity and the association of Wolbachia with multiple host haplotypes suggest that different Wolbachia strains infected G. f. fuscipes multiple times independently. We suggest that these observations reflect a transient phase in Wolbachia evolution that is influenced by the long gestation and low reproductive output of tsetse. Although G. f. fuscipes is superinfected with Wolbachia, our data does not support that bidirectional CI has influenced host genetic diversity in Uganda.
PMCID: PMC3574847  PMID: 23384159
Wolbachia; Population structure; Sequence diversity; groEL; MLST
15.  Implications of Microfauna-Host Interactions for Trypanosome Transmission Dynamics in Glossina fuscipes fuscipes in Uganda 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(13):4627-4637.
Tsetse flies (Diptera: Glossinidae) are vectors for African trypanosomes (Euglenozoa: kinetoplastida), protozoan parasites that cause African trypanosomiasis in humans (HAT) and nagana in livestock. In addition to trypanosomes, two symbiotic bacteria (Wigglesworthia glossinidia and Sodalis glossinidius) and two parasitic microbes, Wolbachia and a salivary gland hypertrophy virus (SGHV), have been described in tsetse. Here we determined the prevalence of and coinfection dynamics between Wolbachia, trypanosomes, and SGHV in Glossina fuscipes fuscipes in Uganda over a large geographical scale spanning the range of host genetic and spatial diversity. Using a multivariate analysis approach, we uncovered complex coinfection dynamics between the pathogens and statistically significant associations between host genetic groups and pathogen prevalence. It is important to note that these coinfection dynamics and associations with the host were not apparent by univariate analysis. These associations between host genotype and pathogen are particularly evident for Wolbachia and SGHV where host groups are inversely correlated for Wolbachia and SGHV prevalence. On the other hand, trypanosome infection prevalence is more complex and covaries with the presence of the other two pathogens, highlighting the importance of examining multiple pathogens simultaneously before making generalizations about infection and spatial patterns. It is imperative to note that these novel findings would have been missed if we had employed the standard univariate analysis used in previous studies. Our results are discussed in the context of disease epidemiology and vector control.
PMCID: PMC3370491  PMID: 22544247
16.  Tsetse fly microbiota: form and function 
Tsetse flies are the primary vectors of African trypanosomes, which cause Human and Animal African trypanosomiasis in 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. These flies have also established symbiotic associations with bacterial and viral microorganisms. Laboratory-reared tsetse flies harbor up to four vertically transmitted organisms—obligate Wigglesworthia, commensal Sodalis, parasitic Wolbachia and Salivary Gland Hypertrophy Virus (SGHV). Field-captured tsetse can harbor these symbionts as well as environmentally acquired commensal bacteria. This microbial community influences several aspects of tsetse's physiology, including nutrition, fecundity and vector competence. This review provides a detailed description of tsetse's microbiome, and describes the physiology underlying host-microbe, and microbe-microbe, interactions that occur in this fly.
PMCID: PMC3810596  PMID: 24195062
tsetse fly; symbiont; wigglesworthia; Sodalis; wolbachia
17.  Lipophorin acts as a shuttle of lipids to the milk gland during tsetse fly pregnancy 
Journal of insect physiology  2011;57(11):1553-1561.
During pregnancy in the viviparous tsetse fly, lipid mobilization is essential for the production of milk to feed the developing intrauterine larva. Lipophorin (Lp) functions as the major lipid transport protein in insects and closely-related arthropods. In this study, we assessed the role of Lp and the lipophorin receptor (LpR) in the lipid mobilization process during tsetse reproduction. We identified single gene sequences for GmmLp and GmmLpR from the genome of Glossina morsitans morsitans, and measured spatial and temporal expression of gmmlp and gmmlpr during the female reproductive cycle. Our results show that expression of gmmlp is specific to the adult fat body and larvae. In the adult female, gmmlp expression is constitutive. However transcript levels increase in the larva as it matures within the mother’s uterus, reaching peak expression just prior to parturition. GmmLp was detected in the hemolymph of pregnant females and larvae, but not in the uterine fluid or larval gut contents ruling out the possibility of direct transfer of GmmLp from mother to offspring. Transcripts for gmmlpr were detected in the head, ovaries, midgut, milk gland/fat body, ovaries and developing larva. Levels of gmmlpr remain stable throughout the first and second gonotrophic cycles with a slight dip observed during the first gonotrophic cycle. GmmLpR was detected in multiple tissues, including the midgut, fat body, milk gland, spermatheca and head. Knockdown of gmmlp by RNA interference resulted in reduced hemolymph lipid levels, delayed oocyte development and extended larval gestation. Similar suppresion of gmmlpr did not significantly reduce hemolymph lipid levels or oogenesis duration, but did extend the duration of larval development. Thus, GmmLp and GmmLpR function as the primary shuttle for lipids originating from the midgut and fat body to the ovaries and milk gland to supply resources for developing oocytes and larval nourishment, respectively. Once in the milk gland however, lipids are apparently transferred into the developing larva not by lipophorin but by another carrier lipoprotein.
PMCID: PMC3209505  PMID: 21875592
Lipid movement; lipophorin; tsetse development; Glossina
18.  Microbiome influences on insect host vector competence 
Trends in parasitology  2011;27(11):514-522.
Insect symbioses lack the complexity and diversity of those associated with higher eukaryotic hosts. Symbiotic microbiomes are beneficial to their insect hosts in many ways, including dietary supplementation, tolerance to environmental perturbations and maintenance and/or enhancement of host immune system homeostasis. Recent studies have also highlighted the importance of the microbiome in the context of host pathogen transmission processes. Here we provide an overview of the relationship between insect disease vectors, such as tsetse flies and mosquitoes, and their associated microbiome. Several mechanisms are discussed through which symbiotic microbes may influence their host’s ability to transmit pathogens, as well as potential disease control strategies that harness symbiotic microbes to reduce pathogen transmission through an insect vector.
PMCID: PMC3179784  PMID: 21697014
19.  Is Chagas Disease Really the “New HIV/AIDS of the Americas”? 
PMCID: PMC3493379  PMID: 23145193
20.  Now We Are Six 
PMCID: PMC3493393  PMID: 23145194
21.  Transcriptional Profiles of Mating-Responsive Genes from Testes and Male Accessory Glands of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, Ceratitis capitata 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46812.
Insect seminal fluid is a complex mixture of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids, produced in the male reproductive tract. This seminal fluid is transferred together with the spermatozoa during mating and induces post-mating changes in the female. Molecular characterization of seminal fluid proteins in the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata, is limited, although studies suggest that some of these proteins are biologically active.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We report on the functional annotation of 5914 high quality expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from the testes and male accessory glands, to identify transcripts encoding putative secreted peptides that might elicit post-mating responses in females. The ESTs were assembled into 3344 contigs, of which over 33% produced no hits against the nr database, and thus may represent novel or rapidly evolving sequences. Extraction of the coding sequences resulted in a total of 3371 putative peptides. The annotated dataset is available as a hyperlinked spreadsheet. Four hundred peptides were identified with putative secretory activity, including odorant binding proteins, protease inhibitor domain-containing peptides, antigen 5 proteins, mucins, and immunity-related sequences. Quantitative RT-PCR-based analyses of a subset of putative secretory protein-encoding transcripts from accessory glands indicated changes in their abundance after one or more copulations when compared to virgin males of the same age. These changes in abundance, particularly evident after the third mating, may be related to the requirement to replenish proteins to be transferred to the female.
We have developed the first large-scale dataset for novel studies on functions and processes associated with the reproductive biology of Ceratitis capitata. The identified genes may help study genome evolution, in light of the high adaptive potential of the medfly. In addition, studies of male recovery dynamics in terms of accessory gland gene expression profiles and correlated remating inhibition mechanisms may permit the improvement of pest management approaches.
PMCID: PMC3469604  PMID: 23071645
22.  The population structure of Glossina fuscipes fuscipes in the Lake Victoria basin in Uganda: implications for vector control 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:222.
Glossina fuscipes fuscipes is the primary vector of trypanosomiasis in humans and livestock in Uganda. The Lake Victoria basin has been targeted for tsetse eradication using a rolling carpet initiative, from west to east, with four operational blocks (3 in Uganda and 1 in Kenya), under a Pan-African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC). We screened tsetse flies from the three Ugandan PATTEC blocks for genetic diversity at 15 microsatellite loci from continental and offshore populations to provide empirical data to support this initiative.
We collected tsetse samples from 11 sites across the Lake Victoria basin in Uganda. We performed genetic analyses on 409 of the collected tsetse flies and added data collected for 278 individuals in a previous study. The flies were screened across 15 microsatellite loci and the resulting data were used to assess the temporal stability of populations, to analyze patterns of genetic exchange and structuring, to estimate dispersal rates and evaluate the sex bias in dispersal, as well as to estimate demographic parameters (NE and NC).
We found that tsetse populations in this region were stable over 4-16 generations and belong to 4 genetic clusters. Two genetic clusters (1 and 2) corresponded approximately to PATTEC blocks 1 and 2, while the other two (3 and 4) fell within PATTEC block 3. Island populations grouped into the same genetic clusters as neighboring mainland sites, suggesting presence of gene flow between these sites. There was no evidence of the stretch of water separating islands from the mainland forming a significant barrier to dispersal. Dispersal rates ranged from 2.5 km per generation in cluster 1 to 14 km per generation in clusters 3 and 4. We found evidence of male-biased dispersal. Few breeders are successfully dispersing over large distances. Effective population size estimates were low (33–310 individuals), while census size estimates ranged from 1200 (cluster 1) to 4100 (clusters 3 and 4). We present here a novel technique that adapts an existing census size estimation method to sampling without replacement, the scheme used in sampling tsetse flies.
Our study suggests that different control strategies should be implemented for the three PATTEC blocks and that, given the high potential for re-invasion from island sites, mainland and offshore sites in each block should be targeted at the same time.
PMCID: PMC3522534  PMID: 23036153
Glossina fuscipes fuscipes; Tsetse; Tryaponosomiasis; Vector; Gene flow; Census size
24.  High Virulence of Wolbachia after Host Switching: When Autophagy Hurts 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(8):e1002844.
Wolbachia are widespread endosymbionts found in a large variety of arthropods. While these bacteria are generally transmitted vertically and exhibit weak virulence in their native hosts, a growing number of studies suggests that horizontal transfers of Wolbachia to new host species also occur frequently in nature. In transfer situations, virulence variations can be predicted since hosts and symbionts are not adapted to each other. Here, we describe a situation where a Wolbachia strain (wVulC) becomes a pathogen when transfected from its native terrestrial isopod host species (Armadillidium vulgare) to another species (Porcellio d. dilatatus). Such transfer of wVulC kills all recipient animals within 75 days. Before death, animals suffer symptoms such as growth slowdown and nervous system disorders. Neither those symptoms nor mortalities were observed after injection of wVulC into its native host A. vulgare. Analyses of wVulC's densities in main organs including Central Nervous System (CNS) of both naturally infected A. vulgare and transfected P. d. dilatatus and A. vulgare individuals revealed a similar pattern of host colonization suggesting an overall similar resistance of both host species towards this bacterium. However, for only P. d. dilatatus, we observed drastic accumulations of autophagic vesicles and vacuoles in the nerve cells and adipocytes of the CNS from individuals infected by wVulC. The symptoms and mortalities could therefore be explained by this huge autophagic response against wVulC in P. d. dilatatus cells that is not triggered in A. vulgare. Our results show that Wolbachia (wVulC) can lead to a pathogenic interaction when transferred horizontally into species that are phylogenetically close to their native hosts. This change in virulence likely results from the autophagic response of the host, strongly altering its tolerance to the symbiont and turning it into a deadly pathogen.
Author Summary
Characterizing the causes of a virulence increase when a parasite jumps from one host species to another is fundamental to the understanding of disease emergence. In this context, we studied the bacterium Wolbachia wVulC, a natural symbiont of one terrestrial isopod species that becomes a pathogen when transfected into individuals of another species. Before death, recipient animals suffer various symptoms including nervous system disorders caused by the multiplication of wVulC. Interestingly, the quantification of wVulC loads showed similar titers in the individuals from both the recipient and native species. The difference between the two host species lies in the way they respond to the invasion of wVulC and not in their resistance per se: While the recipient host species exhibits an acute autophagic response leading to central nervous system cells disorganization, this phenomenon was not observed in the native host species, which seems to better tolerate the bacterium. Together, our results show that tolerance can be a better evolutionary strategy to counteract parasite damage than to activate a putative resistance pathway which, as a double-edged sword, can arm the host itself and increase the virulence of a parasite.
PMCID: PMC3410869  PMID: 22876183
25.  Trypanosoma brucei gambiense Group 1 Is Distinguished by a Unique Amino Acid Substitution in the HpHb Receptor Implicated in Human Serum Resistance 
Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (Tbr) and T. b. gambiense (Tbg), causative agents of Human African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) in Africa, have evolved alternative mechanisms of resisting the activity of trypanosome lytic factors (TLFs), components of innate immunity in human serum that protect against infection by other African trypanosomes. In Tbr, lytic activity is suppressed by the Tbr-specific serum-resistance associated (SRA) protein. The mechanism in Tbg is less well understood but has been hypothesized to involve altered activity and expression of haptoglobin haemoglobin receptor (HpHbR). HpHbR has been shown to facilitate internalization of TLF-1 in T.b. brucei (Tbb), a member of the T. brucei species complex that is susceptible to human serum. By evaluating the genetic variability of HpHbR in a comprehensive geographical and taxonomic context, we show that a single substitution that replaces leucine with serine at position 210 is conserved in the most widespread form of Tbg (Tbg group 1) and not found in related taxa, which are either human serum susceptible (Tbb) or known to resist lysis via an alternative mechanism (Tbr and Tbg group 2). We hypothesize that this single substitution contributes to reduced uptake of TLF and thus may play a key role in conferring serum resistance to Tbg group 1. In contrast, similarity in HpHbR sequence among isolates of Tbg group 2 and Tbb/Tbr provides further evidence that human serum resistance in Tbg group 2 is likely independent of HpHbR function.
Author Summary
Human African Trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, is caused by two different parasites: Trypanosoma brucei gambiense (Tbg) and T. b. rhodesiense (Tbr). Each parasite employs a different mechanism to resist trypanosome lytic factor (TLF), the active innate immune component of human serum. In Tbg group 1, which causes the vast majority of disease cases, the mechanism is thought to involve the reduced activity of a receptor involved in binding and internalizing TLF. In this study, we investigate genetic variation in this receptor across a broad geographic sample of Tbg and closely related trypanosomes to test whether unique polymorphisms in the receptor from Tbg may explain its altered function. We identified a single mutation in all copies of the receptor gene sequenced from Tbg but not in any other closely related species. This finding suggests that this single mutation could play a key role in conferring human infectivity to Tbg. Given the possible consequences for drug development and diagnostics, we suggest that future functional studies target this mutation to fully elucidate its role.
PMCID: PMC3393672  PMID: 22802982

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