Conjugal DNA Transfer in Sodalis glossinidius, a Maternally Inherited Symbiont of Tsetse Flies

Christopher G. Kendra, Chelsea M. Keller, Roberto E. Bruna, Mauricio H. Pontes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Stable associations between insects and bacterial species are widespread in nature. This is the case for many economically important insects, such as tsetse flies. Tsetse flies are the vectors of Trypanosoma brucei, the etiological agent of African trypanosomiasis—a zoonotic disease that incurs a high socioeconomic cost in regions of endemicity. Populations of tsetse flies are often infected with the bacterium Sodalis glossinidius. Following infection, S. glossinidius establishes a chronic, stable association characterized by vertical (maternal) and horizontal (paternal) modes of transmission. Due to the stable nature of this association, S. glossinidius has been long sought as a means for the implementation of anti-Trypanosoma paratransgenesis in tsetse flies. However, the lack of tools for the genetic modification of S. glossinidius has hindered progress in this area. Here, we establish that S. glossinidius is amenable to DNA uptake by conjugation. We show that conjugation can be used as a DNA delivery method to conduct forward and reverse genetic experiments in this bacterium. This study serves as an important step in the development of genetic tools for S. glossinidius. The methods highlighted here should guide the implementation of genetics for the study of the tsetse-Socfafe association and the evaluation of S. glossinidius-based tsetse fly paratransgenesis strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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