Beyond canonical models: why a broader understanding of Diptera-microbiota interactions is essential for vector-borne disease control

Evol Ecol. 2023 Feb;37(1):165-188. doi: 10.1007/s10682-022-10197-2. Epub 2022 Jul 28.


Vector-borne diseases constitute a major global public health threat. The most significant arthropod disease vectors are predominantly comprised of members of the insect order Diptera (true flies), which have long been the focus of research into host-pathogen dynamics. Recent studies have revealed the underappreciated diversity and function of dipteran-associated gut microbial communities, with important implications for dipteran physiology, ecology, and pathogen transmission. However, the effective parameterization of these aspects into epidemiological models will require a comprehensive study of microbe-dipteran interactions across vectors and related species. Here, we synthesize recent research into microbial communities associated with major families of dipteran vectors and highlight the importance of development and expansion of experimentally tractable models across Diptera towards understanding the functional roles of the gut microbiota in modulating disease transmission. We then posit why further study of these and other dipteran insects is not only essential to a comprehensive understanding of how to integrate vector-microbiota interactions into existing epidemiological frameworks, but our understanding of the ecology and evolution of animal-microbe symbiosis more broadly.

Keywords: Diptera; Gut microbiota; Insects; Symbiosis; Vectorial capacity.