In contrast to commensal Escherichia coli, extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC) strains possess an array of virulence-associated genes. We sought to establish the feasibility of using the invertebrate Galleria mellonella (greater wax moth) for assessing ExPEC virulence and to investigate the correlation between genotypic determinants of virulence and in vivo pathogenicity. We observed a correlation between the number of virulence genes and larval survival, such that ExPEC isolates with higher virulence scores killed larvae significantly faster than isolates with lower virulence scores. By correlating genotypic and phenotypic virulence, we provide preliminary validation of this model for future studies investigating ExPEC virulence.
Keywords: Escherichia coli; ExPEC; Galleria mellonella; in vivo; infection model; virulence.