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Int J Parasitol. 2001 May 1;31(5-6):628-31.

The endosymbionts of tsetse flies: manipulating host-parasite interactions.

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The Alexander Robertson Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine, Easter Bush, Midlothian, EH25 9RG, Roslin, UK.


Through understanding the mechanisms by which tsetse endosymbionts potentiate trypanosome susceptibility in tsetse, it may be possible to engineer modified endosymbionts which, when introduced into tsetse, render these insects incapable of transmitting parasites. In this study we have assayed the effect of three different antibiotics on the endosymbiotic microflora of tsetse (Glossina morsitans morsitans). We showed that the broad-spectrum antibiotics, ampicillin and tetracycline, have a dramatic impact on tsetse fecundity and pupal emergence, effectively rendering these insects sterile. This results from the loss of the tsetse primary endosymbiont, Wigglesworthia glossinidia, which is eradicated by ampicillin and tetracycline treatment. Using the sugar analogue and antibiotic, streptozotocin, we demonstrated specific elimination of the tsetse secondary endosymbiont, Sodalis glossinidius, with no observed detrimental effect upon W. glossinidia. The specific eradication of S. glossinidius had a negligible effect upon the reproductive capability of tsetse but did effect a significant reduction in fly longevity. Furthermore, elimination of S. glossinidius resulted in increased refractoriness to trypanosome infection in tsetse, providing further evidence that S. glossinidius plays an important role in potentiating trypanosome susceptibility in this important disease vector. In the light of these findings, we highlight progress made towards developing recombinant Sodalis strains engineered to avoid potentiating trypanosome susceptibility in tsetse. In particular, we focus on the chitinase/N-acetyl-D-glucosamine catabolic machinery of Sodalis which has previously been implicated in causing immune inhibition in tsetse.

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