I-Corps: Quorum Sensing by Bacteria on Hosts Regulates Vector Attraction and Blood-Feeding
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The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project will be the production of novel methods for reducing biting insects (e.g., mosquitoes, black flies, sand flies) causing harm to humans, companion animals and livestock. These methods include the development of novel repellents or traps for adult insects seeking to bite people. From a commercial perspective, such repellents would be ideal to protect humans, pets and livestock from these biting insects. These methods are a more environmentally friendly approach as they do not rely on insecticides as a means to repel adult insects. Traps will also be designed with this technology to trap female insects seeking locations to lay eggs. In all cases, these novel methods could reduce the incidence of disease, such as Zika and West Nile in humans or equine encephalitis.This I-Corps project provides a greater understanding of the link between arthropod behavioral ecology and the communication pathways utilized by the microbial communities associated with host skin could lead to a unique area of research, producing novel methods for suppressing pathogen tramnsmission, and thus reduce the impact of Zika virus, malaria, yellow fever, Dengue, leishmaniasis or other vector-borne diseases. Preventing communication (i.e., quorum sensing) between S. epidermidis (common bacterium on human skin) cells resulted in a 50% reduction of the mosquito Aedes aegypti (mosquito responsible for transmitting pathogen of Zika) to a blood-meal. Furthermore, many compounds produced by bacteria that inhibit quorum sensing by competing bacteria have been synthesized and presently are approved for use by the Federal Drug Administration as a cancer treatment or to treat patients with chronic infections. For example, Pseudomonas aeruginosa produces a fatty acid with structural similarity to diffusible signal factors. This non-traditional quorum sensing inhibition results in the dispersal of pre-existing biofilms and prevents new biofilm development. These same compounds, which are commercially available, in combination with the results from our research could lead to the development of field-ready applications.