Effects of Bartonella spp. on flea feeding and reproductive performance

Danny Morick, Boris R. Krasnov, Irina S. Khokhlov, Ricardo Gutiérrez, Laura J. Fielden, Yuval Gottlieb, Shimon Harrus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous pathogens are transmitted from one host to another by hematophagous insect vectors. The interactions between a vector-borne organism and its vector vary in many ways, most of which are yet to be explored and identified. These interactions may play a role in the dynamics of the infection cycle. One way to evaluate these interactions is by studying the effects of the tested organism on the vector. In this study, we tested the effects of infection with Bartonella species on fitness-related variables of fleas by using Bartonella sp. strain OE 1-1, Xenopsylla ramesis fleas, and Meriones crassus jirds as a model system. Feeding parameters, including blood meal size and metabolic rate during digestion, as well as reproductive parameters, including fecundity, fertility, and life span, were compared between fleas experimentally infected with Bartonella and uninfected fleas. In addition, the developmental time, sex ratio, and body size of F1 offspring fleas were compared between the two groups. Most tested parameters did not differ between infected and uninfected fleas. However, F1 males produced by Bartonella-positive females were significantly smaller than F1 males produced by Bartonella-negative female fleas. The findings in this study suggest that bartonellae are well adapted to their flea vectors, and by minimally affecting their fitness they have evolved to better spread themselves in the natural environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3438-3443
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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