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Akhtar, Mastura

Akhtar, Mastura Ph.D. 2008
University of Minnesota Phone: 532-4732 akhtarm@umn.edu

Bio Brief

"Public Health Aspects of the Enterococcus spp. - Housefly, Musca domestica L. (Diptera: Muscidae) Association"

Luna’s research is entitled “Microbial ecology of house flies: Physiological and medical aspects of house fly- Enterococci symbiosis” and will examine the role of house flies in disseminating virulent and antibiotic resistant bacterial genes.

Recipient of the Don C. Warren Genetics Scholarship Award, 2006

Recipient of the R. C. Smith Award in Entomology (Ph.D.), 2007


M.S. , University of Dhaka, Dhaka Bangladesh,


House fly larvae strictly develop in a decaying organic material, primarily animal and human feces. The dependence of the house fly larval development on bacterial communities indicates a close evolutionary association. Investigation of the microbial ecology of house flies is important from several perspectives including, the significance of bacteria for the house fly nutrition and physiology, development of new microbially-based management of house flies, and the role of house flies in the ecology of bacterial pathogens and antibiotic resistance genes.

Animal and human feces are an important habitat/reservoir for diverse and numerous microbial communities that frequently contain human and animal pathogens. In addition, the development of antibiotic resistance among clinical isolates as well as commensal bacteria causes a great concern because of the potential dissemination and horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes in the environment, primarily from the agricultural to urban habitats. In this project, enterococci are chosen as a bacterial model system because of their medical importance, frequent antibiotic resistance, great variety of mobile genetic elements, and their ubiquitous presence in the animal feces/manure and digestive tract of manure-borne insects.

The specific objectives of this project are:

1. To evaluate the bacterial cell mass as a sole nutrient source for house fly larvae

2. To assess the survival of the gastro-intestinal bacterial symbionts during house fly pupation using GFP - labeled bacterial isolates.

3. To assess the role of house flies in the ecology of antibiotic and virulence genes carried by enterococci by:

a) Antibiotic resistance profiling of Enterococcus faecalis and E. faecium isolated from the animal manure and the gastro-intestinal tract of associated house flies,

b) Genotyping of enterococcal isolates by pulsed field electrophoresis (PFGE),

c) Evaluation of diversity of enterococcal virulence factors including CylA, CylB, GelE, AS, Esp, EfaA by PCR, and

d) Investigation of the horizontal gene transfer among enterococci in the house fly digestive tract.


Anderson, J.F., T.D. Parrish, M. Akhtar, L. Zurek and H. Hirt. 2008. Antibiotic resistance of enterococci in America bison (Bison bison) from a nature preserve compared to that of enterococci in pastured cattle. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 74: 1726-1730