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22 June 2023 Survival of Salmonella Typhimurium in the hemolymph of the German cockroach vector is limited by both humoral immune factors and hemocytes but not by trehalose metabolism
Matthew Turner, Landen Van Hulzen, Vincent Peta, Jose E. Pietri
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The German cockroach (Blattella germanica) has been linked to transmission of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S.Typhimurium), but infection dynamics within this vector are poorly characterized. Our recent work has focused on S.Typhimurium infection in the cockroach gut. However, microbial dissemination to the hemolymph is an essential aspect of many vector-borne pathogen transmission cycles and could potentially contribute to S.Typhimurium colonization of cockroaches.Therefore, the goal of this study was to examine the ability of S.Typhimurium to disseminate, survive, and proliferate in the hemolymph of cockroaches after oral infection.We detected only low numbers of bacteria in the hemolymph of a minority of insects (∼26%) after oral infection. Further, S.Typhimurium was unable to survive overnight in cell-free hemolymph. Several hypotheses to explain the inability of S.Typhimurium to colonize hemolymph were tested. First, we investigated the ability of S.Typhimurium to metabolize trehalose, the primary sugar in hemolymph. S.Typhimurium grew efficiently in vitro using trehalose as a sole carbon source and mutant strains lacking trehalose metabolism genes exhibited no growth deficiencies in media mimicking the composition of hemolymph, suggesting that trehalose metabolism ability is not a factor involved in restricting survival in hemolymph. On the other hand, heat-inactivated cell-free hemolymph was permissive of S. Typhimurium growth, demonstrating that survival in hemolymph is limited specifically by heat-labile humoral factors.The involvement of cellular immune responses was also investigated and cockroach hemocytes in culture were observed to internalize S. Typhimurium within 1 h of exposure. Most hemocytes harbored few to no bacteria after 24 h, indicating that hemocyte responses are additionally involved in clearing infection from the hemolymph. However, dense intracellular clusters of S. Typhimurium were observed sporadically, suggesting a small subset of hemocytes may serve as reservoirs for bacterial replication.Together, our results reveal that a minute proportion of ingested S.Typhimurium is able to escape the cockroach gut and enter the hemolymph, but this systemic population is limited by both humoral effectors and hemocytes.Thus, we conclude that invasion of the hemolymph appears minimally important for colonization of the cockroach vector and that colonization of the gut is the main driver of vector-borne transmission. Our insight into the antimicrobial mechanisms of cockroach hemolymph also highlights the strong ability of these prevalent pests/vectors to cope with frequent infectious challenges in septic habitats.

Matthew Turner, Landen Van Hulzen, Vincent Peta, and Jose E. Pietri "Survival of Salmonella Typhimurium in the hemolymph of the German cockroach vector is limited by both humoral immune factors and hemocytes but not by trehalose metabolism," Journal of Medical Entomology 60(5), 875-883, (22 June 2023).
Received: 19 February 2023; Accepted: 8 June 2023; Published: 22 June 2023

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