Animal African Trypanosomiasis is a major constraint to livestock health and production. The disease has for years continued to contribute towards economic and developmental setback in the sub-Saharan Africa. Tsetse flies, vectors for transmission, are attracted to livestock and wildlife where they feed on blood meal contaminated by trypanosomes, the disease causing parasites. Host ageing urine has been shown to be the source of phenolic blend attractive to the tsetse. However, limited research has been carried out on the microbial communities associated with the production of the phenols. This study aimed at profiling bacterial communities mediating production of tsetse attractive phenols in mammalian urine. Urine samples were collected from disease free, African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), domestic cattle (Bos taurus) and eland (Taurotragus oryx) at Kongoni Game Valley Ranch and Kenyatta University in Kenya. Samples, for each animal species, were pooled together and left open to age at ambient conditions. Bacteriological and phenols analysis was then carried out, at 4 days ageing interval, for 24 days. Phenols analysis revealed nine volatile phenols: p-cresol, o-cresol, m-cresol, phenol, 3-ethylphenol, 3-propylphenol, 2-methyloxyphenol, 4-ethylphenol and 4-propylphenol. Eight out of nineteen bacterial isolates from the ageing urine revealed potential to mediate production of phenols. 16S rRNA gene characterization of the isolates closely resembled Enterococcus faecalis KUB3006, Psychrobacter alimentarius PAMC 27887, Streptococcus agalactiae 2603V, Morganella morganii sub.sp. morganii KT, Micrococcus luteus NCTC2665, Planomicrobium spp. sed133-2s, Ochrobactrum pituitosum AA2 and Enterococcus faecalis OGIRF. This study established that some of the phenols emitted from mammalian urine, which influence tsetse-host seeking behaviour, are well characterised by certain bacteria. Understanding profiles of bacterial communities that mediate production of tsetse attractant phenols allow the development of “push-pull” experimental models in vector control that combines the use of these bacteria.
Keywords: Trypanosomiasis, tsetse phenols, bacteria, buffalo, cattle, eland