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

PI: Kerri Coon


Coon is an assistant professor of bacteriology. 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.

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. The overall objective of this research is to determine the capacity of flies (Diptera: Muscidae) to transmit disease-causing bacteria to Wisconsin dairy cattle. The presence and abundance of potentially pathogenic bacteria will be examined in fly and manure samples collected from dairy farms across southeastern Wisconsin. Results of this study will provide new insight into the underlying environmental persistence and transmission of bacterial pathogens that are harmful to cow health and production. This research will also establish a cross-disciplinary collaboration between researchers at UW-Madison and support the development of new resources and outreach materials to engage dairy farmers, dairy partners and the public. This is consistent with several Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommendations, including #26: “Increased collaboration in the UW System and with private industry,” and #34: “Create an app for dairy producers and associates on major topics.” Collaborators include Garret Suen, Department of Bacteriology, Johanna Elfenbein, Department of Pathobiological Sciences and Andrew Sommer, Department of Bacteriology.

Publication in Evolutionary Ecology – June 2022

Garret Suen