Blowfly metagenomes as a tool to assess the presence of microbial pathogens on farms

Open Access
Hake, Caylie Marie
Area of Honors:
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Dr Stephan Schuster, Thesis Supervisor
  • Ming Tien, Faculty Reader
  • blowflies
  • metagenome
  • livestock
  • pathogens
  • vectors
Flies can act as vectors for various diseases, and the close association between flies, livestock and poultry, and humans warrants closer study to develop an understanding of disease transmission. In this study, we aimed to identify bacterial species carried by flies collected from several animal facilities local to Penn State University. We used Illumina MiSeq and HiSeq sequencers to determine the fly species and the entire metagenome of the samples. After determining which bacterial species were most prominent, we chose four to investigate further using MLST schemes. We successfully amplified genes from Acinetobacter baumannii, Helicobacter cinaedi, Proteus mirabilis, and Escherichia coli directly from the original DNA samples. With sequences from the PCRs, we were able to verify the presence of these pathogenic species in some samples and in other samples verified the genera. Methods such as those used in this study could prove beneficial to agriculture, veterinary medicine, and public health as tools to determine the best route toward disease prevention.