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Damali Zakers

Damali Zakers

Tuskegee University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Class of 2020

Research Interests

Bordetella bronchiseptica vs Bordetella pertussis and their interaction with Dictyostelium discoideum

Damali D. Zakers1, Dawn L. Taylor-Mulneix2, Eric T. Harvill2

1College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tuskegee, Tuskegee Alabama,2Center for Vaccine and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.

Bordetella species are gram negative bacteria that cause respiratory infections. B. bronchiseptica causes Kennel Cough in canines and infects a wide host of other mammals, while B. pertussis only infects humans causing the disease Whooping Cough. While much is known about the ability of these bacteria to colonize and cause disease in the respiratory tracts, little is known about their environmental reservoirs or if these reservoirs are important for spread and transmission of the bacteria. We hypothesize that the ability of bordetellae to interact with the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum as an environmental reservoir is important for these interactions. We preformed assays to assess the ability of both B. bronchiseptica and B. pertussis to survive inside Dictyostelium discoideum and their ability to localize to the fruiting body(sori) of the amoeba. The results showed that B. bronchiseptica survives intracellularly in the amoeba and is also present in the fruiting body(sori) while B. pertussis does not survive intracellularly and therefore does not make it to the fruiting body(sori). These data indicate that B. bronchiseptica can utilize amoeba spores to travel to new locations and infect hosts such as canines. B. pertussis fails to survive amoebic predation and therefore cannot localize to the amoeba sori and utilize the amoeba as a transmission vector. Altogether, these data indicate that the ability of Bordetella species to interact with the amoeba correlates with their host range and has potential implications for transmission between hosts.

Research Grant: None

Student Support: Boehringer Ingelheim, Veterinary Medical Experiment Station, UGA College of Vet Medicine

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