Navigation Links
1 species, 2 outcomes: Team seeks source of body louse pathology
Date:1/10/2014

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. A new study seeks to determine how one parasitic species can give rise to two drastically different outcomes in its host: The human body louse (Pediculus humanus) can transmit dangerous bacterial infections to humans, while the human head louse (also Pediculus humanus) does not.

A report of the new study appears in the journal Insect Molecular Biology.

"Body louse-transmitted diseases include trench fever, relapsing fever and epidemic typhus," said University of Illinois entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh, who led the research. In a previous study, Pittendrigh and his colleagues compared the sequences of all protein-coding genes in head and body lice and determined that the two belonged to the same species despite the fact that body lice are bigger than head lice, cling to clothing instead of hair, and can transmit disease.

Since the early 2000s, Pittendrigh has worked with John M. Clark, a professor of environmental toxicology and chemistry at the University of Massachusetts, on the molecular biology and genomics of lice. Clark was a collaborator on the 2012 study, and the two have had "a long-term goal of trying to solve this question of why body lice transmit bacterial diseases and head lice don't," Pittendrigh said.

In the new study, Clark's group infected head and body lice with Bartonella quintana, the bacterium that causes trench fever. Pittendrigh's laboratory then looked at gene expression in each to see how the insects responded to the infection.

"Our experiments suggest that the head louse immune system is fairly effective in fighting off the bacteria that cause trench fever," Pittendrigh said. "However, the body lice don't seem to have as good an immune response."

The researchers discovered that several immune genes were regulated differently in head and body lice after infection with the bacteria, and the infection progressed further in body lice over time.

"By eight days post-infection, head lice had killed or contained the invading B. quintana, whereas the bacteria were still proliferating and spreading in body lice," the researchers reported.

The team cannot yet say why head and body louse immune responses differ from one another, but Pittendrigh hypothesizes that the body louse has a reason to be more tolerant of bacterial infection.

"Head and body lice have beneficial bacteria living inside them," he said. "These bacteria make vitamins that the lice need to grow and survive. Body lice tend to grow larger than head lice. It may be that a suppressed immune system allows body lice to grow more of the bacteria that make the vitamins they need, and they grow larger."

The body louse's dampened immune response would allow other invading bacteria, such as those that cause disease in humans, to also survive in its gut, he said.

"So body lice may grow bigger, but they also are more likely to get sick with the trench fever bacteria and pass the disease to humans," Pittendrigh said.

The study team also includes researchers from Purdue University, Seoul National University, the University of California at San Francisco, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Illinois department of animal biology.


'/>"/>

Contact: Diana Yates, Life Sci Editor, U. of I. News Bureau
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Head and body lice appear to be the same species, genetic study finds
2. Divide the Antarctic to protect native species, propose experts
3. Sri Lankan snake study reveals new species, rich biodiversity in island country
4. Plan to delist gray wolf endangers other threatened species, researchers find
5. Trial seeks improved lung-cancer screening by combining imaging and biomarkers
6. Sandia seeks commercial partners for revolutionary SpinDx medical diagnostic tool
7. Global genome effort seeks genetic roots of disease
8. Tom Bowman seeks to engage 30 million small businesses in climate response
9. Biomass research collaboration seeks to improve biofuel efficiency, bio-products quality
10. BRAIN initiative seeks tools to understand human thought, behavior, consciousness
11. Current water resources in Europe and Africa
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
1 species, 2 outcomes: Team seeks source of body louse pathology
(Date:1/6/2017)... , Jan. 6, 2017  Privately-held CalciMedica, Inc., ... in healthy volunteers of a novel calcium release-activated ... acute pancreatitis. Acute pancreatitis, sudden ... mild disorder, but can be very serious.  In severe ... sepsis, where extended hospital stays, time in the ...
(Date:1/4/2017)... 2017  CES 2017 – Valencell , the ... announced the launch of two new versions of ... biometric sensor modules that incorporate the best of ... expertise. The two new designs include Benchmark BE2.0, ... and Benchmark BW2.0, a 2-LED version of its ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... LONDON , Dec. 20, 2016 ... car sharing, rental and leasing is stoking significant ... of radio frequency technology, Bluetooth low energy (BLE), ... emerge as the next wave of wireless technologies ... vehicle access system to advanced access systems opens ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/14/2017)... 13, 2017  The Alliance for Safe Biologic Medicines ... FDA final guidance on biologic naming: ... in emphasizing the importance of distinct naming for all ... the benefits biosimilars will bring to patients, including new ... the portion of the Guidance dealing with suffix design ...
(Date:1/13/2017)... ... 13, 2017 , ... Two Kalamazoo entrepreneurs have launched AgTonik ... that farms, greenhouses and hydroponics operations use to increase yields and promote plant ... segments of customers using this high grade fulvic acid extracted from a mineral ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... ... January 12, 2017 , ... ... IS A SUCCESS , VTI, Vertebral Technologies, Inc., announces the successful outcome ... expandable device. Since September 2016, VTI (Vertebral Technologies, Inc.) has partnered with ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Huffman Engineering, Inc. , a leader in control systems ... company’s Lincoln office as a chemical engineer. In his new role, Beck will ... the life science manufacturing and water/wastewater industries. , Prior to joining Huffman Engineering, Beck ...
Breaking Biology Technology: