2023 journal article
Feeding on a Bartonella henselae Infected Host Triggers Temporary Changes in the Ctenocephalides felis Microbiome
The effect of Bartonella henselae on the microbiome of its vector, Ctenocephalides felis (the cat flea) is largely unknown, as the majority of C. felis microbiome studies have utilized wild-caught pooled fleas. We surveyed the microbiome of laboratory-origin C. felis fed on B. henselae-infected cats for 24 h or 9 days to identify changes to microbiome diversity and microbe prevalence compared to unfed fleas, and fleas fed on uninfected cats. Utilizing Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) on the Illumina platform, we documented an increase in microbial diversity in C. felis fed on Bartonella-infected cats for 24 h. These changes returned to baseline (unfed fleas or fleas fed on uninfected cats) after 9 days on the host. Increased diversity in the C. felis microbiome when fed on B. henselae-infected cats may be related to the mammalian, flea, or endosymbiont response. Poor B. henselae acquisition was documented with only one of four infected flea pools having B. henselae detected by NGS. We hypothesize this is due to the use of adult fleas, flea genetic variation, or lack of co-feeding with B. henselae-infected fleas. Future studies are necessary to fully characterize the effect of endosymbionts and C. felis diversity on B. henselae acquisition.