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Appears in Collections:Aquaculture Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Larva of the greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella, is a suitable alternative host for studying virulence of fish pathogenic Vibrio anguillarum
Author(s): McMillan, Stuart
Verner-Jeffreys, David W
Weeks, Jason M
Austin, Brian
Desbois, Andrew P
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Keywords: Alternative host
Atlantic salmon
Replacement, reduction and refinement (3Rs)
Wax moth larvae
Issue Date: 23-Jun-2015
Date Deposited: 1-Jul-2015
Citation: McMillan S, Verner-Jeffreys DW, Weeks JM, Austin B & Desbois AP (2015) Larva of the greater wax moth, Galleria mellonella, is a suitable alternative host for studying virulence of fish pathogenic Vibrio anguillarum. BMC Microbiology, 15, Art. No.: 127.
Abstract: Background: Microbial diseases cause considerable economic losses in aquaculture and new infection control measures often rely on a better understanding of pathogenicity. However, disease studies performed in fish hosts often require specialist infrastructure (e.g., aquaria), adherence to strict legislation and do not permit high-throughput approaches; these reasons justify the development of alternative hosts. This study aimed to validate the use of larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) to investigate virulence of the important fish pathogen, Vibrio anguillarum. Results: Using 11 wild-type isolates of V. anguillarum, these bacteria killed larvae in a dose-dependent manner and replicated inside the haemolymph, but infected larvae were rescued by antibiotic therapy. Crucially, virulence correlated significantly and positively in larva and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) infection models. Challenge studies with mutants knocked out for single virulence determinants confirmed conserved roles in larva and fish infections in some cases (pJM1 plasmid, rtxA), but not all (empA, flaA, flaE). Conclusions: The G. mellonella model is simple, more ethically acceptable than experiments on vertebrates and, crucially, does not necessitate liquid systems, which reduces infrastructure requirements and biohazard risks associated with contaminated water. The G. mellonella model may aid our understanding of microbial pathogens in aquaculture and lead to the timely introduction of new effective remedies for infectious diseases, while adhering to the principles of replacement, reduction and refinement (3Rs) and considerably reducing the number of vertebrates used in such studies.
DOI Link: 10.1186/s12866-015-0466-9
Rights: © 2015 McMillan et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
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