27 November 2017

Not only the carriers of infection

Flies were suggested to be used to prevent epidemics

Natalia Pelezneva, Naked Science

It is known that flies are able to carry microorganisms that cause many diseases, including cholera, typhoid fever and some eye diseases. An international team of scientists examined the microbiomes of 116 houseflies and meat flies and came to the conclusion: these insects may be carriers of a much larger number of diseases than was commonly believed.

Flies cannot eat solid food, they dissolve it with saliva. Insects are often attracted to excrement and relatively soft foods, such as spoiled fruit or meat. Because of these nutritional features, the fly is constantly in contact with a variety of microorganisms, including those dangerous to humans.


The authors studied the genomes of a set of microorganisms living in the body of 116 flies caught in Brazil, Singapore and the USA. The researchers took into account not only the difference in the region of origin, but also the habitat of each fly: city, countryside or wildlife. Interestingly, scientists have found more pathogens in urban insects than in rural ones. For many of the bacteria found, flies were not previously considered a significant vector. For example, scientists found traces of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori in the studied material of Brazilian flies, which is associated with the development of chronic gastritis and some cases of stomach ulcers.

Scientists have come to the conclusion that the legs and wings of flies differ in the greatest variety of microorganisms. "In fact, the study shows that each of the hundreds of steps of a fly leaves a trace of a colony of microorganisms, if the surface allows bacteria to multiply," says one of the authors of the work, Stephen Schuster (Stephan Schuster).

New data once again confirm that flies landing on food can be dangerous to humans. Nevertheless, there is a positive side to this problem. Scientists believe that flies can be used as a unique warning system for the spread of pathogens. Insects will become living "drones" collecting bacteria in a certain area. If dangerous microorganisms begin to spread, the analysis of local flies can tell about it even before the outbreak of the epidemic. Perhaps, in the future, such technologies will help prevent outbreaks of diseases.

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports (Junqueira et al., The microbiomes of blowflies and houseflies as bacterial transmission reservoirs).

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru

Found a typo? Select it and press ctrl + enter Print version