, Volume 96, Issue 9, pp 1127–1132 | Cite as

Bacteria on housefly eggs, Musca domestica, suppress fungal growth in chicken manure through nutrient depletion or antifungal metabolites

  • Kevin Lam
  • Kelsie Thu
  • Michelle Tsang
  • Margo Moore
  • Gerhard Gries


Female houseflies, Musca domestica (Diptera: Muscidae), lay their eggs in ephemeral resources such as animal manure. Hatching larvae compete for essential nutrients with fungi that also colonize such resources. Both the well-known antagonistic relationship between bacteria and fungi and the consistent presence of the bacterium Klebsiella oxytoca on housefly eggs led us to hypothesize (1) that K. oxytoca, and possibly other bacteria on housefly eggs, help curtail the growth of fungal resource competitors and (2) that such fungi indeed adversely affect the development of housefly larvae. Bacteria washed from housefly eggs significantly reduced the growth of fungi in chicken manure. Nineteen bacterial strains and ten fungal strains were isolated from housefly eggs or chicken manure, respectively. Co-culturing each of all the possible bacterium–fungus pairs revealed that the bacteria as a group, but no single bacterium, significantly suppressed the growth of all fungal strains tested. The bacteria's adverse effect on fungi is due to resource nutrient depletion and/or the release of antifungal chemicals. Well-established fungi in resources significantly reduced the number of larval offspring that completed development to adult flies.


Houseflies Musca domestica Klebsiella oxytoca Bacterial symbiont Fungi Communication ecology 



We thank E. Zabek and S. Byrne for DNA sequencing of bacterial and fungal isolates, S. Perlman for constructive comments, and E. Kiehlmann for proofreading the manuscript. Funding was provided by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)—Canada Graduate Scholarship to K.L., NSERC—Undergraduate Student Research Awards to K.T. and M.T., and by an NSERC—Industrial Research Chair to G.G., with Pherotech International, SC Johnson Canada, and Global Forest Science (GF-18-2007-226; GF-18-2007-227) as sponsors.

Supplementary material

114_2009_574_MOESM1_ESM.doc (165 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Lam
    • 1
  • Kelsie Thu
    • 1
  • Michelle Tsang
    • 1
  • Margo Moore
    • 1
  • Gerhard Gries
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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