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J Tissue Viability. 2009 Aug;18(3):80-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jtv.2009.02.005. Epub 2009 Apr 9.

Do maggots have an influence on bacterial growth? A study on the susceptibility of strains of six different bacterial species to maggots of Lucilia sericata and their excretions/secretions.

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Department of Trauma Surgery, VU University Medical Center, P.O. Box 7057, 1007MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



The maggots of Lucilia sericata are successfully used as a treatment for infected wounds. Many articles are published about possible direct antibacterial properties of maggots and their excretions/secretions (ES), but with different results. The present study reinvestigates the susceptibility of six bacterial strains to maggots and their ES.


Live maggots were added to a bacterial suspension. After incubation for 16 h, the bacterial growth in this suspension was compared with the growth in a suspension without maggots. We tested Instar-1 and Instar-3 maggots and compared nutrient broths. A turbidimetric assay investigated the antibacterial activity of ES. Finally, we compared the bacterial growth of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.


The test with live maggots showed an increase of bacterial growth. Instar-1 maggots stimulated more bacterial growth than Instar-3 maggots, as well as the use of a more nutritious broth. The turbidimetric assay showed no inhibition of bacterial growth. For all bacteria, except Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an increase in bacterial growth was shown.


There is no direct antibacterial effect of maggots and/or ES in vitro, however in clinical observations maggot therapy is successful. More research is needed to focus on possible indirect antibacterial activity, such as an immune-related effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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