Skip to main content

Effects of ecological factors on bacterial communities of fleas


RESEARCH PROBLEM: The identification of potential ecological factors that affect the dynamics between hosts, vectors, and their microbes could have a marked impact on our ability to prevent and control vector-borne diseases. Recent studies have suggested that interactions among microbes within the individual vector may affect the density of a pathogen, and its transmission rate and virulence to the host. However, factors that affect the microbial composition of vectors remain obscure. I will use a rodent–flea model to elucidate the effects of three candidate factors, host age and grooming behavior, and vector densities on a host, that are likely to impact microbial diversity of vectors. PROPOSED METHODOLOGY: Pyrosequencing—a recent developed technique in molecular biology—allows a comprehensive assessment of microbial communities. The current project will make use of this technique to compare between the microbial assembly of fleas that will be collected during a field survey from juvenile and adult rodents, and during two laboratory experiments, in which host grooming and flea densities will be manipulated. EXPECTED CONTRIBUTION: In this study, I will investigate the relationships between multiple functional groups, i.e. hosts, vectors, and their commensal, mutualistic, and parasitic microbes. This approach is expected to uncover key mechanisms that would not – and could not – be revealed by focusing on a single pathogen. The results of the study can also serve as a basis for assessing the local risk of transmission of flea-borne diseases to animals and people and predicting whether this risk will change in response to changes in flea densities, host behavior, and host-age distribution. The interdisciplinary basic and applied importance and timeliness of the research topic – together with the match between my profile and project –promise the success of this project and its contribution to European excellence and European competitiveness.

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call


84105 Beer Sheva

See on map

Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Daphna Tripto (Ms.)
EU contribution
€ 100 000