Studies of Vibrio cholerae pathogenesis in the context of novel eukaryotic model systems have expanded our understanding of genes that underlie V. cholerae interactions with humans, as well as host organisms in the environment. These model systems have also helped uncover new functions for many gene products, revealing previously unknown virulence mechanisms. The Drosophila model for V. cholerae infection is a powerful tool for discovering new genetic pathways that govern bacterial physiology and colonization in the arthropod gastrointestinal tract. Assays to measure both virulence and colonization have been established and are easily adopted in labs unfamiliar with Drosophila work. Experiments to compare survival of flies colonized with different bacterial mutants are simple to perform and can be completed in less than a week, allowing colonization to be quantified and localized easily. The availability of molecular and genetic tools for the fly enables further exploration of host factors that restrict V. cholerae colonization and invasive infection. Based on the Drosophila system, a house fly (Musca domestica) model of V. cholerae colonization has also been developed. The new house fly model may prove a useful tool for examining V. cholerae infection dynamics in the context of a host carrying a complex microbial community, with a fundamentally different ecology that may increase its chances of acting as a vector for cholera disease.
Keywords: Colonization; Confocal microscopy; Drosophila melanogaster; Fruit fly; House fly; Musca domestica; Survival; Vibrio cholerae; Virulence.