Capacity of flies to acquire and transmit pathogenic bacteria to dairy cows

PI: Kerri Coon


Coon is an assistant professor of bacteriology at UW–Madison. Research in her lab centers on insect-microbe interactions, with a current focus on understanding the diversity and function of gut microbes in mosquitoes and other insect disease vectors.

Jan 1, 2024 – June 2024: Graduate student (pictured above): Julia Kettner received her bachelor’s in microbiology from UW–Madison. As an undergraduate, she completed extensive student research in multiple campus labs including the Veterinary Diagnostics Lab and the Coon Lab working with Klebsiella, E. Coli, and Campylobacter. Kettner is currently completing her master’s degree in microbial sciences mentored by Kerri Coon.

July 1 – Dec. 31, 2023: Graduate student: Andrew Sommer received his bachelor’s in biology and chemistry with a minor in applied statistics from the State University of New York at Oswego. His research interests include metabolic interactions of bacteria and bovine pathogen dissemination. Sommer is currently pursuing a PhD in microbial sciences and is mentored by Kerri Coon.

Mastitis and enteritis are two of the most common and costly diseases affecting dairy cattle in the United States and worldwide. However, very little is known about how dairy cows acquire mastitis and enteritis causing bacteria from the environment. This project intends to determine the capacity of flies to transmit disease-causing bacteria to dairy cows. In objective 1, the presence and abundance of potentially pathogenic bacterial taxa will be examined in fly and manure samples collected from dairy farms across southeastern Wisconsin. In objective 2, functional analysis will be used to examine colonization and persistence of known clinical isolates in the house fly. The results of this study will provide novel insights into the processes underlying environmental persistence and transmission of opportunistic bacterial pathogens that are detrimental to cow health and production.

Garret Suen