Midgut lysozymes of Lucilia sericata - new antimicrobials involved in maggot debridement therapy

Insect Mol Biol. 2014 Dec;23(6):779-87. doi: 10.1111/imb.12122. Epub 2014 Aug 6.


Larvae of Lucilia sericata are used for maggot debridement therapy (MDT) because of their ability to remove necrotic tissue and eradicate bacterial pathogens of infected wounds. So far, very few antibacterial factors have been fully characterized (eg lucifensin). Using a molecular approach, some other putative antimicrobial compounds, including three novel lysozymes, have been previously identified and predicted to be involved in MDT. Nevertheless, data on lysozymes tissue origin and their functions have never been elucidated. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the expression of three lysozymes in L. sericata and confirm their antibacterial effects within MDT. Moreover, we characterized the eradication process of bacteria within the digestive system of maggots and determined the role of lysozymes in this process. We found that three lysozymes are expressed in specific sections of the L. sericata midgut. Recombinant lysozymes displayed comparable antibacterial activity against Micrococcus luteus. Furthermore, the majority of Gram-positive bacteria were destroyed in vivo within the particular section of the L. sericata midgut where lysozymes are produced. Larval ingestion and subsequent eradication of wound pathogens during their passage through the intestine of maggots are due to, at least in part, antibacterial action of three midgut lysozymes.

Keywords: Lucilia sericata; eradication of bacteria; lysozyme; maggot debridement therapy; midgut.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Debridement / methods*
  • Defensins / pharmacology
  • Digestive System / enzymology
  • Digestive System / microbiology
  • Diptera / enzymology
  • Diptera / metabolism*
  • Diptera / microbiology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects
  • Larva / enzymology
  • Larva / microbiology
  • Micrococcus luteus / drug effects
  • Muramidase / metabolism
  • Muramidase / pharmacology
  • Wound Infection


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Defensins
  • lucifensin
  • Muramidase