Subscribe

Insect-Domesticated Bacteria Found After Man Impales Hand

By Cassie Ryan
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 15, 2012 Last Updated: November 19, 2012
Related articles: Science » Inspiring Discoveries
Print E-mail to a friend Give feedback

Microscopic image showing newly discovered bacterial strain HS, with stains used to color cell walls red and the DNA or genetic material blue. (Adam Clayton/University of Utah)

Microscopic image showing newly discovered bacterial strain HS, with stains used to color cell walls red and the DNA or genetic material blue. (Adam Clayton/University of Utah)

A new bacterium with a symbiotic relationship in some insects has been identified after infecting a man from Indiana.

In 2010, Thomas Fritz impaled his hand on a branch, and a sample taken from the resultant abscess led to the discovery of a strain called HS, short for ”human Sodalis,” that grows well in the lab.

This finding has implications for preventing disease transmission and crop damage by insect-borne viruses.

”Being kind of a scientist, I thought, ‘Okay, this is how things happen sometimes,’” said Fritz in a press release. “I have strong faith, and I think God did this for a purpose—gaining of additional knowledge—and that’s wonderful.”

Up to 10 percent of insects are home to bacteria, which produce nutrients for their hosts and sometimes toxins to kill invaders like fungi in return for shelter and food.

“If we can genetically modify a bacterium that could be put back into insects, it could be used as a way to combat diseases transmitted by those insects,” explained study first author Adam Clayton at the University of Utah in the release.

By engineering HS and placing these bacteria in tsetse flies, they could be used to kill the flies’ protozoan parasites that cause sleeping sickness in Africa.

Similarly, by replacing aphids’ symbionts this way, insect-borne plant viruses that attack crops like soybeans could be prevented.

“We have identified very few of the bacteria that exist in nature, and new species and strains like HS are often only discovered when they infect humans,” concluded the scientists in their study.

Their research was published in PLoS Genetics on Nov. 15.

The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Follow Cassie Ryan, EpochTimesSci & EpochTimesSpace on Twitter

Find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EpochTimesSci & Youtube: www.youtube.com/EpochTimesSci

Please send any feedback to qa.science@epochtimes.com




   

GET THE FREE DAILY E-NEWSLETTER


Selected Topics from The Epoch Times

Ian Kane Contributor