16S rRNA Gene Profiling of Bacterial Communities Mediating Production of Tsetse Attractive Phenols in Mammalian Urine
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Several types of odours are involved in the location of host animals by tsetse (Diptera: Glossinidae), a vector of animal African trypanosomiasis. Host animals' ageing urine has been shown to be the source of a phenolic blend attractive to the tsetse. Nevertheless, limited research has been performed on the microbial communities' role in the production of phenols. This study aimed at profiling bacterial communities mediating the production of tsetse attractive phenols in mammalian urine. Urine samples were collected from African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), cattle (Bos taurus) and eland (Taurotragus oryx) at Kongoni Game Valley Ranch and Kenyatta University in Kenya. Urine samples, of each animal species, were pooled and left open to age in ambient conditions. Bacteriological and phenols analyses were then carried out, at 4 days ageing intervals, for 24 days. Phenols analysis revealed nine volatile phenols: 4-cresol, ortho-cresol, 3-cresol, phenol, 3-ethylphenol, 3-propylphenol, 2-methyloxyphenol, 4-ethylphenol and 4-propylphenol. Eight out of 19 bacterial isolates from the ageing urine revealed the potential to mediate production of phenols. 16S rRNA gene characterisation of the isolates closely resembled Enterococcus faecalis KUB3006, Psychrobacter alimentarius PAMC 27887, Streptococcus agalactiae 2603V, Morganella morganii sub.sp. morganii KT, Micrococcus luteus NCTC2665, Planococcus massiliensis strain ES2, Ochrobactrum pituitosum AA2 and Enterococcus faecalis OGIRF. This study established that some of the phenols emitted from mammalian urine, which influence the tsetse's host-seeking behaviour, are well characterised by certain bacteria. These results may allow the development of biotechnological models in vector control that combines the use of these bacteria in the controlled release of semiochemicals.